Culture to Culture: Fat-Phobia and Somatization

  • Samir Al-Adawi
  • Sanjay Jaju
  • Ibrahim Al-Zakwani
  • Atsu S. S. Dorvlo


It has been extensively reported that food ingestion patterns and eating practices vary from culture to culture. However, there is a paucity of studies examining the role of culture and ethnicity in the area of eating disorders and its manifestations. We attempt to address this issue with special focus on a pioneering study comparing the performance of indices of deliberate food restriction (Eating Attitude Test), laparophobia (Eating Disorder Inventory), and tendency toward utilizing psychosomatically expressed psychological distress (Bradford Somatic Inventory) in Western and non-Western populations. The results suggest that non-Western teenagers have increased propensity toward deliberate food restriction and somatization while Western teenagers show a greater tendency toward laparophobia. The findings have implications for determining what is universal versus what is cultural in food ingestion patterns and eating practices in order to lay the groundwork for understanding their pathological counterparts, as well as to appreciate the pluralism in disordered eating in the much-heralded globalized world.


Anorexia Nervosa Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa Diet Behavior Eating Disorder Inventory 



Eating Attitude Test-26


Eating Disorder Inventory


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders


International Classification of Disease


Bradford Somatic Inventory


Body mass index



We thank the staff and pupils of the schools involved for their help and time in co-operating so fully with this study. We are grateful to Rodger G. Martin, Nonna Viernes and P.C. Alexander for both technical support and facilitating data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samir Al-Adawi
    • 1
  • Sanjay Jaju
  • Ibrahim Al-Zakwani
  • Atsu S. S. Dorvlo
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral Medicine, College of Medicine and Health SciencesSultan Qaboos UniversityMuscatSultanate of Oman

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