The influence of sociocultural factors on the eating attitudes of Lebanese and Cypriot students: a cross-cultural study

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Abstract

Background

The present comparative cross-cultural study aimed to explore the relationship between eating behaviour and sociocultural influences with respect to appearance and body image in female university students from two cultural contexts, namely Cyprus and Lebanon.

Methods

The Dutch Eating Behavior questionnaire (DEBQ) and the Perceived Sociocultural Influences on Body Image and Body Change Questionnaire were used to assess sociocultural influences and body image, respectively, in 200 students from each country.

Results

The results indicated that the Lebanese students were more likely to engage in emotional and external eating and their body image was impacted to a larger extent by sociocultural agents, including media influences, compared to the Cypriot students. Also, a positive relationship was found between emotional and external eating in both cultures. Finally, sociocultural influences correlated positively with external eating only in the Cypriot sample.

Conclusions

Culture-specific factors, such as the societal values and norms, as well as the Westernisation history of each country, are discussed as underpinnings for the differences found. These findings are significant for understanding the rise of eating pathology in these two cultures and provide evidence for a need to consider cultural environment when designing public health policies addressing the negative aspects of nutrition transition.

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