Racial and Gender Discrimination among Black Women: an Examination of Health Locus of Control as a Moderator of Maladaptive Eating Behaviors



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Many factors may contribute to the higher prevalence of overweight and obesity for Black women. Associations between discrimination and health behaviors have been identified (Laitinen, Ek, & Sovio, 2002; Oliver & Wardle, 1999). Stress as a result of racial and gender discrimination may lead to changes in health behaviors such as maladaptive eating habits as a coping response; these behaviors may ultimately have an influence on Black women’s health. In addition, major substantive questions remain about the conditions that moderate the effects of discrimination on health behaviors among Black women. Thus, this study examined two questions: (a) Is there a relationship between discrimination (i.e., racial and gender) and dietary behavior (e.g., low-fat eating and snacking on sweets)? and (b) Is the relationship between discrimination and dietary behaviors moderated by health locus of control orientation (e.g., internal and matter of chance)? Two hundred and twenty-seven participants were recruited and data were collected online. It was expected that discrimination and health locus of control would each contribute significantly to dietary behaviors in this sample of women. Moderated regressions were used to test the study hypotheses. Bivariate correlations results revealed that internal HLOC was positively associated with low-fat eating behavior; chance HLOC was positively associated with snacking on sweets eating behavior; and racial discrimination was positively associated with snacking on sweets eating behaviors. Results also indicated that internal HLOC and chance HLOC served as moderators in the relationship between racial and gender discrimination and snacking on sweets eating behaviors but not for low-fat eating behaviors. Implications for future research are discussed.



Racial discrimination, Gender discrimination, Black women, Eating behaviors, Health, Locus of control