Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Greg Brack, PhD

Second Advisor

Catharina Chang, PhD

Third Advisor

Catharina Chang, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Kensa Gunter, PsyD


The purpose of this study was to investigate the complexities of body satisfaction and maladaptive relationships with food as it related to ethnic identity for college-aged African American women. I explored how maladaptive relationships with food may be moderated by ethnic identity (Rogers-Wood & Petrie, 2010), and associated with concerns for body image ideals (Capodilupo & Kim, 2013; Cheney, 2011;) or concerns related to health (Di Noia et al., 2009; Rich & Thomas, 2008). The sample consisted of 189 undergraduate and graduate African American women at a southeastern university in the United States, with a mean age of 22.87.

Analyses of correlations suggested that maladaptive eating was associated with low body satisfaction and high concerns for appearance. Findings also suggested that higher levels of ethnic identity were associated with lower levels of body satisfaction. Body satisfaction was inversely related to body mass index. There was no significant relationship between ethnic identity and maladaptive eating. Higher levels of ethnic identity were associated with lower levels of health consciousness. Body image satisfaction and concerns for appearance were positively correlated with health consciousness.

Multiple regression analyses indicated significant moderating effects of ethnic identity only for the relationship between maladaptive eating and health consciousness. Ethnic identity moderated the relationship between maladaptive eating and health consciousness particularly for women with low levels of ethnic identity, while accounting for body mass index and body image concerns. Clinical implications for addressing body image concerns, maladaptive eating, and concerns about health with African American women are discussed.