American Indian Adolescents and Disordered Eating


Disordered eating can be explained as unhealthy and disturbed pattern of eating which involve compulsive eating, restrictive dieting as well as skipping meals. Disordered eating habits are the most general symptoms of escalation of eating disorders. The result of eating disorders is adverse impacts on an individual’s personal life and studies are connecting it with the lack of ability to handle a stressful situation. The most common forms of this conditions include,  binge eating, fasting or chronic restrained eating, laxative, diuretic, enema, misuse restrictive dieting, self induced vomiting, skipping meals and using diet pills. Many studies that American Indian are the most prone to disordered eating and that they are constantly exhibiting disturbed eating behaviors in addition to using not so healthy practices in trying to control their weight. In many studies involving Hispanic, American India and white high school students, there have been consistence of American Indians scoring high in most of the items representing the disordered eating behaviors (Cassell & Gleaves, 2006). The article by Juleen K. Buser is a strong indicator of this perception. This paper sought to offer critique to the article.

Eating disorders studies still at its infancy

The studies and researches that have been conducted in this area remain few and it is therefore not appropriate time to make conclusions. Though there are significant findings alluding to the phenomenon being much associated with American Indians, this can be attributed to the perception of importance of physical attractiveness. American Indians are associated with placing importance on their physical attractiveness and hence this may be a factor of researches linking them with eating disorderly. This may not be true as even African-American women exhibit such traits (Clauss-Ehlers,  Serpell, & Weist, 2013). African American women have adapted to dominant American or assimilated the values and behaviors of the prevailing culture. It is therefore these characteristically young, perfection-seeking; educate women, and not the American Indians, who are more at risk of eating disorderly. The author of the article therefore is wrong to purport only the American Indians adolescents are at a higher risk of succumbing to Eating disorderly.

Diets don’t necessarily work

Contrary to what many beliefs, including the author of the article, Juleen K. Buser, research has shown majority of people on diets, regain more weight than they lose within the time they were on diet and the actual number may well be considerably higher. Weight loss and fad diets may not take a person’s individual requirements into consideration and can therefore lead to the individual experiencing low moods, feeling hungry, developing poor health and lacking in energy levels. The assumptions that being on diet which is normally factored by the researchers while researching on eating disorderedly, may therefore not reflects the real situation on the ground. The American Indians may be regularly on diet but this may not necessary lead to Disordered Eating (Shannon, 2007). The assumptions made by the author may therefore be invalid. If the assumptions are validated and research conducted objectively it is possible to have different conclusion regarding the American Indians and Disordered Eating.

Role of school counselors

The author of the article, American Indian Adolescents and Disordered Eating, places a chief role of eradicating the problem to the school counselors. This may not always work as the problem does not occur exclusively at school. Though the school counselors have a role to play, the major role should be played by the parents of these adolescents and the general society. Change of culture may play a major role than the counselor would. All adults working with these adolescent, and especially the girls, should promote an environment discouraging negativity in body image and disordered eating behviours and this will prevent eating disorders among the adolescent children. In particular, they should be provided with healthy eating information and encouraged to undertake regular physical activities. Sexual harassment or teasing about another person’s weight, body shape or race should not be tolerated. Media should participate by conducting literacy activities on advertisements exploring images of thinness as beauty targeting adolescent girls. Culturally appropriate materials should be incorporated in the curricula which would make it the role of everyone in the institution to eradicate the problem other than leaving it entirely on the school counselors (Agras, 2010). In addition, ethnically diverse role models should be involved. Health professionals should be willing to provide appropriate information to adolescent children who want to achieve a healthy weight. Contrary to the article therefore, numerous stakeholders have a big role to play.

Disordered eating unnoticed in minorities communities

Contrary to the article, disordered eating could well be affecting minority communities only that it goes unnoticed. The same have been said to be on the rise in Latina community but it has been difficult to assess due to a number of reasons. The chief reason for this is the fact that very little research has been conducted on this group. The second reason is that even the few researches that have been conducted are in one way or another flawed. Many studies, for instance have only based their findings and conclusions on a small group of women while others have involved only groups of clinic patients. Lastly, most of these studies have neglected to make the consideration of the role played by such factors like acculturation or country of origin. Examples are Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico which may play a role on the type, prevalence and severity of eating disorders. Portraying Indian Americans may therefore be a result of these research biases. Other minorities that have suffered the same fate include Asian-American women. The only research available has focused on adolescents or college students. The research indicates the prevalence is higher in Asian-American women than in whites. To come to any authoritative conclusions about disordered eating within a particular ethnic group, researchers need to do more in data gathering putting in consideration levels of acculturation, different ages and Asian subgroups which include Chinese, Japanese and Indian (Striegel-Moore,  2011).


The argument that disordered eating habit is prevalent among the American Indians may need rethinking and re-evaluation. It is too early to say so as research on the same is still at the infancy stages. The factors the researchers considers need to be validated to enhance the accuracy of the researches been conducted. Lack of accurate research consideration factors may well be playing a role in depicting the current scenario. In-depth research should be taken to include even the most minority group in the American population (Lock, & Le, 2005). There are many measures that can be put in place to eradicate this problem. Many categories of people have a role to play to ensure successful implantation of the plans.

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