This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Negative Family Food Experiences, Ethnic Identity, and Disordered Eating in African-American Women: Measuring Relevant Risk and Protective Factors




Hunter, Evelyn

Type of Degree



Counseling Psychology


Research with Caucasian women supports that negative family food (NFF) experiences may be a risk factor for disordered eating. To date, the examination of risk factors for disordered eating in African American (AA) women emphasizes an etic approach in which research with predominantly Caucasian samples is assumed to apply to AA women. The purpose of this research was to examine the relationship between disordered eating, NFF experiences (including mainstream NFF experiences and culturally influenced NFF experiences), and ethnic identity in AA women. Participants (n = 251) completed measures related to disordered eating, mainstream NFF experiences, culturally influenced NFF experiences, and ethnic identity. Participants primarily identified as AA (92.8%) and had a mean age of 22.66 (SD = 1.86). Using hierarchical linear regression, results showed that disordered eating was positively correlated with NFF experiences of all types (mainstream and culturally influenced). Additionally, disordered eating was more highly correlated with culturally influenced NFF experiences promoting the thin ideal than culturally influenced NFF experiences promoting a curvier ideal. Finally, ethnic identity moderated the relationship between mainstream NFF experiences and disordered eating, such that when women endorsed a strong cultural connection (high ethnic identity), higher mainstream NFF experiences did not relate to a significant increase in disordered eating. Implications of this research include support suggesting ethnic identity is a protective factor against disordered eating, specifically with regard to protecting against the impact of mainstream NFF experiences on these behaviors.