Change in risk factors for eating disorder symptomatology in Malay students sojourning in the United Kingdom

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Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this investigation was to examine change in risk for eating disorders in higher education students sojourning in the United Kingdom (UK), as well as associations between such risk and experiences in the host culture.

Method:

Participants were 98 female students from Malaysia, who completed a measure of risk factors for eating disorder symptomatology (the Eating Disorder Inventory-3 subscales of drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, and bulimia symptoms) at two time points: two months prior to beginning their sojourn in the UK (Time 1) and four months after the sojourn began (Time 2). At Time 2, participants also completed measures of sociocultural adjustment, cultural distance between home and host cultures, and perceived discrimination in the host culture.

Results:

Analyses indicated that, compared to scores at Time 1, participants had significantly higher drive for thinness (d = 0.64), body dissatisfaction (d = 0.54), and bulimia symptoms (d = 0.29) at Time 2. Poorer sociocultural adjustment and greater perceived discrimination significantly predicted greater risk of eating disorders at Time 2.

Discussion:

The stress associated with culture change may place sojourning students at risk for disordered eating. Further research is needed to determine the extent to which this risk is related to culture-change specifically, as opposed to a general set of factors associated with transition-related psychopathology more broadly. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2016; 49:695–700)

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