Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Anorexia and bulimia: cross-cultural comparison

Eating disorders are culturally conditioned to a considerable degree. For example, in North America anorexia and bulimia are much more rare among immigrants and minority groups. These cultural distinctions are peculiarly evident when teenagers from other cultures get acquainted with American ideals of weight and beauty. And after a little while the number and the extent of eating disorders among them grows significantly.

Teenagers from minority groups, that belong to upper middle class, are exposed to a greater risk because of their aspiration to be accepted in the dominating culture, or because they come under critical influence of two different (and sometimes contradictory) systems of cultural values. As it was already said, patterns of food consumptions and, consequently, eating disorders are closely connected with upbringing and cultural values. Such cultural favors as thinness and self-restraint are predominant in the North-American culture.

If we take into account statistics, it turns out that anorexia and bulimia are 5 times more prevalent in big cities than in the countryside. Probably, it's the impact of urbanization. Hustles and bustles of city life, stresses and frustrations tell on the state of health of the urban population and lead to anorexia and bulimia.

Some subgroups of teenagers are subjected to these disorders to a greater extent. Among them are girls with high socio-economic status or those who aspire to make a good career in certain fields.

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