Cultural factors such as ethnicity can affect eating behaviour. For example, Khan found white women were more prone to have body dissatisfaction and disorders such as bulimia than Asian or black women. Kennedy studied over 14,000 women aged between 18-23 and found the longer the women spent in Australia, the more similar to women born in Australia were their attitudes to food and eating behaviours (the enculturation effect).
Social class may also be an important influence in dieting and body dissatisfaction. Dornbusch found that among American adolescents, higher class females had a greater desire to be thin and were more likely to diet to achieve this compared to lower class females. Goode et al also found that healthy attitudes to eating were more likely to be found among higher income families.
Other research challenges ethnicity as a factor in these attitudes. Mumford found that the incidence of bulimia nervosa was higher among Asian schoolgirls than among white schoolgirls. Also, Striegel-Moore found a greater drive to be thin among black girls than their white counterparts, which therefore challenges the claim that ethnicity is a key influence in the development of disordered eating.
Research challenged the claim that social class is important in developing attitudes to food and eating. Story et al found that higher social class was actually associated with greater rather than lower body dissatisfaction and lower rates of behaviour designed to lose weight. Other studies have found no relationship between the two, suggesting that social class…