Fearing Fatness: A Cross-National Comparison of Indian and European American University Students

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International Journal of Culture and Mental Health


Although studies suggest that anti-fat attitudes and fear of fatness exist among Indian women, few researchers have examined the cross-cultural applicability of their measures prior to assessing Indian samples. In the present study, we evaluated the measurement equivalence of two related measures, the Anti-Fat Attitudes Questionnaire (AFA) and the Goldfarb Fear of Fat Scale (GFFS), and tested for differences in means among college women in India (n = 226) and European American college women in the USA (n = 211). For both measures, there was good evidence for measurement equivalence across samples. Mean comparisons suggested that the Indian and European American participants differed significantly in some but not other dimensions of attitudes toward fatness. Whereas Indian women reported greater dislike of overweight others, European American women reported greater fear of gaining weight and beliefs that they may gain weight. However, overall differences in GFFS fear of fatness were not statistically significant. Although these results are interpreted cautiously, they offer preliminary evidence regarding the attitudes toward fatness among Indian and European American college women. Further examination of these constructs would serve to facilitate a better understanding of the potential mechanisms underlying body image concerns and eating psychopathology across diverse cultural groups.


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