Acculturation and Disordered Eating among Asian American College Students: The Role of Objectification through a Sociocultural Lens.
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Disordered eating is a public health problem because it's highly prevalent, dangerous, and costly. More research about its risk factors and mechanisms is needed to address this problem and prevent disordered eating among high-risk populations, particularly understudied ethnic minorities. The present study contributes to the limited existing research on acculturation and disordered eating among Asian American college students who represent an understudied and high-risk group. The sample consisted of 245 Asian American (primarily East and Southeast Asian American) college students who provided data on their acculturation status, internalization of thin and muscular body ideals, body surveillance, body shame, and disordered eating. Results show that after controlling for gender, both cultures are positively associated with internalization of the muscular body ideal, but only the Asian culture of origin is associated with disordered eating. Additionally, path analysis results show that Asian culture of origin has a significant total effect on disordered eating as well as a significant indirect effect on disordered eating, mediated by thin body ideal internalization. While American culture does not have a significant contribution to body ideal internalization or disordered eating, it interacts with Asian culture of origin and put participants with high levels of both cultures at a greater risk for muscular body ideal internalization. Findings highlight the importance of cultural context in the understanding of body experiences and disordered eating among Asian American college students and have implications for the prevention and intervention of these problems in this high-risk population.