Cultural Strengths and Eating Behavior of Latina Young Adults: An Exploration of Ethnic Identity, Familismo, and Spirituality of Eating and Health-related Behavior
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Using a strength-based paradigm, this study explored resilience factors (i.e. ethnic identity, familismo, and spirituality) associated with a continuum of eating disorder (ED) and obesity risk variables, depression, anxiety, and acculturation among Latina women. Two models predicting psychological distress and ED outcomes were tested using cross-sectional data (N= 262) from an internet-based survey. Results indicated that cultural resilience factors were associated with less psychological distress, fewer ED symptoms, and less ED risk. Psychological distress partially mediated the relationship between cultural resilience and ED symptoms and risk, indicating the possibility of heightened ED risk when cultural resilience is low and psychological distress is high. Acculturation to U.S. mainstream culture was not associated with cultural resilience or negative outcomes; rather, biculturalism, or successful negotiation of both cultures, appeared to facilitate use of cultural practices and values that protect Latinas from negative eating behaviors and psychological outcomes. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.