Race/ethnic differences in desired body mass index and dieting practices among young women attending college in Hawai'i.

Susan M. Schembre, Claudio R. Nigg, Cheryl L. Albright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In accordance with the sociocultural model, race/ethnicity is considered a major influence on factors associated with body image and body dissatisfaction, and eating disorders are often characterized as problems that are primarily limited to young White women from Western cultures. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there are differences that exist by race in desired body weight; the importance placed on those ideals; and dieting strategies among White, Asian American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and other mixed-race young women in Hawai'i. A total of 144 female college students 18-20 years of age were surveyed about body weight as well as eating and exercise habits. Results demonstrated that all the young women wanted to lose weight. However, there were no differences in desired body weight or desired weight change by race after controlling for body mass index suggesting that current weight rather than race/ethnicity is the predominant influence on weight-related concerns. Young White women placed the greatest level of importance on achieving a lower body weight, which corresponded with a greater likelihood to be attempting weight loss (dieting) and greater endorsement of behaviors consistent with weight loss compared to their counterparts. Findings imply that, for young women, race/ethnicity may not have as significant an impact on factors associated with body weight ideals as previously believed. Rather, differences in the value placed on achieving a desired body weight, as it relates to disordered eating, should be further explored among race/ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-36
Number of pages5
JournalHawaii Medical Journal
Issue number7 Suppl 1
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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