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Ethnicity, Body Image Perception and Weight-Related Behaviour among Adolescent Females Attending Secondary School in Trinidad

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Objective: The correlates of body image perception among an ethnically diverse group of adolescent females attending secondary school in Trinidad were investigated.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out among adolescent females from selected secondary schools in Trinidad. Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire consisting of sociodemographic items and standardized psychometric instruments.

Results: Two hundred and fifty-one students participated in the survey with an ethnic composition as follows: Indo-Trinidadian (35.9%), Afro-Trinidadian (28.7%), Indo-Afro mixed Trinidadian (21.9%) and other (13.5%). The results suggest that 2.4% of the participants reported having a medical diagnosis for an eating disorder. Indo-Trinidadians had significantly greater body dissatisfaction than Indo-Afro-mixed Trinidadians but not more than Afro-Trinidadians (p = 0.04). Also, a significantly higher proportion of Indo-Trinidadians engaged in binge eating behaviour compared to the other ethnic groups (p < 0.001). Afro-Trinidadians were more likely to use vomiting as a mean of weight control compared to Indo- and Indo-Afro-mixed Trinidadian (p < 0.05). Fifty-one per cent of participants had a negative body image perception. Altered body image perception was associated with a significant higher mean Body Shape Questionnaire BSQ16 score (p < 0.001) and increased likelihood of reporting being diagnosed with an eating disorder (OR = 2.03, 95% CI: 1.78, 2.31; p = 0.01) compared to nonaltered body image state. Eating Attitude Test (EAT-26) score was positively correlated with Drive-for-Thinness (p < 0.001) and BSQ16 (p < 0.001) scores and inversely correlated with the Rosenberg selfesteem score (p = 0.012).

Conclusion: In this group of adolescents, there are ethnic differences in the level of concern over body image and associated eating, and weight-related behaviour.

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e-Published: 17 Jun, 2013
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