Body image, acculturation, and substance abuse among boys and girls in the southwest

Tanya Nieri, Stephen Kulis, Verna M. Keith, Donna Hurdle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study explored body image as measured by perceptions of weight and appearance and its impact on adolescent drug use among predominately Mexican American middle school students in the southwest. Outcomes analyzed included lifetime and recent alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use and antidrug norms. Disliking one's looks was more of a risk factor for boys, whereas negative weight perceptions were more of a risk factor for girls. Relative to more acculturated (English-dominant) Latinos (N=903), non-Latino Whites (N=121), and other non-Latino youth (N=107), less acculturated (Spanish-dominant) Latino youth (N=212) reported the poorest body image. However, more acculturated Latino youth with poor body image had the greatest risk of substance use. More acculturated Latino boys who disliked their looks reported relatively greater amounts of recent alcohol use, and those who rated their bodies as too thin reported higher lifetime cigarette use, a greater amount and frequency of recent cigarette use, and weaker antidrug norms. More acculturated Latina girls who thought they were too fat reported a greater amount and frequency of recent cigarette use. These findings suggest that low levels of acculturation may protect some Latino youth with poor body image from coping via substance use. In addition, they suggest that poor body image among some Latinos may result less from adoption of American thinness ideals but rather from attitudes and behaviors that devalue the characteristics of Latino appearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-639
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2005

Keywords

  • Acculturation
  • Body image
  • Latinos
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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