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Emphasizing the “Cultural” in Sociocultural: A Systematic Review of Research on Thin-Ideal Internalization, Acculturation, and Eating Pathology in US Ethnic Minorities

Authors Warren CS, Akoury LM

Received 15 October 2019

Accepted for publication 18 January 2020

Published 1 April 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 319—330


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Mei-chun Cheung

Cortney S Warren,1,2 Liya M Akoury3

1Department of Psychology, University of Nevada - Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, USA; 2Choose Honesty, LLC., Las Vegas, NV, USA; 3Walden Behavioral Care, Amherst, MA, USA

Correspondence: Cortney S Warren
Choose Honesty, LLC., 4044 N Lincoln Avenue, Unit 319, Chicago, IL 60618, USA

Abstract: A large body of research suggests that thin-ideal internalization is a robust predictor of eating pathology in women and, to some degree, in men. Recent research is exploring the relationships between thin-ideal internalization and culture-specific factors that may be salient to women and men who live in the US but are marginalized based on racial or ethnic background, such as acculturation. This systematic review summarizes published articles examining the relationships among thin-ideal internalization, acculturation-related constructs (including assimilation, marginalization, biculturalism, and acculturative stress), and eating pathology in US adults. Following the PRISMA method, 15 empirical studies met inclusion criteria. Although existing literature was sparse and conflicting in large part due to heterogeneity in acculturation measures, results yielded some support for positive correlational relationships between acculturative stress, thin-ideal internalization, and eating pathology for both men and women (in 4 out of 5 relevant studies). Research on other aspects of acculturation (eg, integration, assimilation) is mixed, with some existing research suggesting a positive relationship and other research finding no statistically significant relationship. Future research would particularly benefit from a gold-standard, multidimensional transcultural measure of acculturation to examine how the acculturation process relates to thin-ideal internalization and eating pathology in ethnic and racial minorities in the US.

Keywords: eating pathology, thin-ideal internalization, acculturation, acculturative stress, biculturalism, generational status

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