Disordered eating in African American women: An object relations perspective

Jo Ann Spadafore, Tennessee State University


The purpose of the present study was to examine disordered eating behaviors in a population of African American women at a Historically Black University (HBCU). Past research has indicated that African American women at a predominantly White university meet diagnostic criteria for eating disorders at the same rates as Caucasian women (Mulholland & Mintz, 2001). Because African American women at an HBCU are immersed in African American culture, a primary focus of the present research was to determine if level of acculturation impacts the rates at which they report disordered eating behavior. Additionally, levels of attachment according to the four-category model (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991) were examined as predictors of disordered eating. Results indicated that higher levels of preoccupied attachment predict both restriction of food and binge eating behavior. In contrast, a higher level of dismissive attachment decreased the likelihood that participants would report binge eating behavior, and higher African American acculturation predicted a lower likelihood that participants would report purging behavior. Directions for future research and suggestions for treatment interventions are provided.

Subject Area

Black studies|Womens studies|Clinical psychology|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Jo Ann Spadafore, "Disordered eating in African American women: An object relations perspective" (2007). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3277891.