Body Image, Unhealthy Weight Control Behaviors, and Experiences With Discrimination: Implications for Public Health Practice and Research
TRAN-DISSERTATION-2018.pdf (563.8Kb)(embargoed until: 2021-11-01)
Tran, Alvin H.
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AbstractIn recent years, a growing number of news outlets have reported incidents of racism and other forms discrimination in online dating, including on mobile dating apps. Discrimination in dating apps, however, is a phenomenon that remains understudied. Few empirical studies have examined and documented discriminatory experiences on mobile dating apps. The three papers presented here aim to fill this existing knowledge gap and contribute to the growing body of literature exploring the toll of discrimination on public health.
Chapter 1 described the results of a qualitative study on male body image. This study explored the current body image ideals among a racially/ethnically diverse sample of gay and bisexual young men in Massachusetts. It also compared the perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs gay and bisexual men have toward the ideal male body. Results revealed three emergent themes: 1) the ideal male body: muscular, thin, and light-skin toned; 2) discrimination as a result of not fitting the ideal male body; 3) navigating deviations from the ideal body: self-objectification, retaliation, and unhealthy weight control behaviors (UWCBs).
Chapter 2 explored the association between dating app use and UWCBs. Using data from the Harvard Chan Physical Activity Study, results suggest dating app users had elevated odds of UWCBs compared to non-users. The results also suggest participants across racial/ethnic groups demonstrated significantly higher odds of UWCBs compared to their white counterparts.
Chapter 3 examined the association between perceived discrimination and serum lipids, which generally is comprised of plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Elevated total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and low concentrations of HDL cholesterol represent a poor lipid profile and are considered risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Results of linear regression models suggest greater perceived discrimination was significantly associated with lower HDL cholesterol and elevated total triglyceride concentrations.
Overall, the findings contribute to a growing body of literature focused on discrimination and its potential effects on public health. They also identified dating apps as a medium for interpersonal discrimination and suggested these apps may play a role in contributing to body image dissatisfaction.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:37925662