Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Eating and Acculturation in a Filipino American Population on a Small Hawaiian Island

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Eating and Acculturation in a Filipino American Population on a Small Hawaiian Island

Article excerpt

The objective of our study was to examine the relationship between eating and U.S. acculturation in a largely Filipino American population living on a geographically isolated Hawaiian Island. Participants (N = 69) were 12-19 year old children enrolled in a public school. We measured eating disturbances, U.S. acculturation, body dissatisfaction, depression, self-esteem, family cohesion, self-loathing, and perfectionism using surveys. Level of U.S. acculturation predicted degree of eating disturbances. Eating pathology occurred in 17% of participants with girls showing a higher risk than boys. Body dissatisfaction, self-loathing, and perfectionism were significant predictors of eating disturbance. Results suggest that Filipino American children are at greater risk for eating disturbances as they and their families become more integrated with U.S. culture.

Filipino populations immigrating to the United States may undergo significant changes in availability of foods and activity patterns. Perhaps as a consequence of these changes, Filipino immigration to the U.S. is associated with changes in eating patterns and tendency to develop eating pathology (Farrales & Chapman, 1999; Lauderdale & Rathouz, 2000). Eating disturbances are important to examine since Filipino Americans show high rates of hypertension and type-2 diabetes relative to other cultural groups (Colin Bell, Adair, & Popkin, 2002; Cuasay, Lee, Orlander, Steffen-Batey & Hanis, 2001). Research on Filipino Americans has indicated a surprising gender difference in risk of eating pathology. Filipino American males show a pattern of eating disorder symptoms and body dissatisfaction similar to that of White American females (Edman & Yates, 2005; Yates & Edman, 2004). Our study examines eating attitudes and related variables of a largely Filipino-American population residing on a remote and isolated Hawaiian Island.

Acculturation can be defined as a change in an individual's behaviors and attitudes resulting from contact with another culture. Research has shown that immigrants from a number of different countries, including the Philippines, change their eating habits and may be more likely to develop eating pathology after becoming acculturated to North American values (Cachelin & Regan, 2006; Farrales & Chapman 1999; Geller & Thomas, 1999; Gowen, Hayward, Killen, Robinson, & Taylor, 1999; Mastria, 2002; Park, Paik, Skinner, Ok, & Spindler, 2003). For example, Farrales and Chapman (1999) interviewed Filipino women living in Canada and found that immigrants easily distinguished between Filipino and North American values regarding thinness and dieting. Most of the participants saw themselves as having been influenced by North American values that emphasized thinness as an ideal. Another study (Lauderdale & Rathouz, 2000) examined Asian-American immigrants from six cultures (including Filipino) and found that length of stay in the U.S. was positively associated with Body Mass Index (BMI, kg/[m.sup.2]), indicating that immigrants steadily gained weight after moving to the United States.

There are few published studies on the eating habits of Filipino-American children. Young Filipino-American children tend to have low weights but gain weight rapidly compared with other ethnic groups. In one study of multiethnic children in Hawaii (Baruffi, Hardy, Waslien, Uyehara, & Krupitsky, 2002), one-third of Filipino American one-year-old children were classified as "underweight." However, at ages 2-4, only 12% of Filipino American children were underweight, showing that they gained weight rapidly. This increase of BMI among Filipino American children put them at a 76% greater risk of becoming overweight adults than White Americans (Baruffi, et al., 2002). Filipino American adolescents also show more subcutaneous fat than Mexicans, Whites, or African Americans (Malina, Huang, & Brown, 1995). These results suggest that Filipino American children, as well as adults, may show effects of U. …

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