Caucasian college age women are more likely to meet criteria for binge eating than African American women, according to a study.
Melissa Napolitano, clinical psychologist at the Center for Obesity Research and Education and associate professor of kinesiology in the College of Health Professions, found that Caucasian women displayed more severe symptoms of binge eating than their African American counterparts.
However, the research also discovered that the predictors of binge eating symptom severity were not very different, including depressed mood, and the perception of feeling fat.
Napolitano said: "We are trying to figure out when the diet trajectory changes, and when it is that African-Americans start to exhibit these behaviors. It's important to look at the eating habits of this group as they may contribute to early onset weight gain and obesity."
Investigators said culture could be a significant factor in the diagnosis and African Americans may not label consuming larger portions as such.
Napolitano explained: "These women could be binge eating, but they may have less anxiety and distress surrounding their eating habits, so they don't recognize it as an issue."
The expert further stressed on the need for more research to examine differences in eating patterns and behaviours among different cultures.
She said: "College age women are at a critical stage in their development, and there's almost no research that looks at binge eating behaviors among African American women. We need to do a better job at understanding these eating practices to help design and evaluate both prevention and treatment efforts."
The study has been presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Obesity Society.