Background: An interesting debate in the literature is about the role of race/ethnicity not only as a risk factor for eating disorders (EDs), but also as a moderator of the relations between other risk factors and ED symptoms. The following research question was explored: Does race/ethnicity moderate the relations between the implicit belief that high-fat food is shameful and ED symptoms? Methods: About 15,000 (N = 14,964) volunteers (67.7% White, 7.7% Asian, 7.4% Hispanic, 6.9% Black) completed the Implicit Association Test (IAT) measuring the implicit associations between high-fat (vs. low-fat) food and shameful (vs. acceptable) on the Project Implicit mental-health website (https://implicit.harvard.edu) between 2011 and 2017. ED symptoms and demographics were measured via self-report. Results: Race/ethnicity moderated (beta = 0.087, p = .002) the relations between IAT and ED symptoms, adjusting for BMI, age, sex, education, such that the IAT was related to ED symptoms among Whites (r = 0.113, p < .001), Hispanics (r = 0.086, p = .004), and Asians (r = 0.097, p = .001), but not Blacks (r = 0.056, p = .071). Discussion: Although the effect size was small, findings imply that some ED risk factors may vary among racial/ethnic groups. Future studies should use prospective designs to examine whether implicit biases actually represent a risk factor for ED symptoms and whether this varies by race/ethnicity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Approval to use the data was obtained from Bethany A Teachman (PhD) from the University of Virginia (USA).
- Eating disorder symptoms
- High-fat food
- Implicit associations
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health