Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Adriana Espinosa


social media, eating disorders, body image, hispanics, anorexia nervosa, Instagram


Hispanic people are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the U.S. with a total of 18.5% of the U.S population being of Hispanic descent (United States Census Bureau, 2020). Although eating disorders (ED), particularly those involving binge eating, comprise a significant health concern, EDs are often overlooked in the Hispanic culture (Higgins et al., 2016; Opara & Santos, 2019). Hispanic individuals have comparable rates of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and an even higher rate of binge eating disorders compared to non- Hispanic (NH) White individuals (Higgins et al., 2016). Within Hispanic adults, the lifetime prevalence of EDs is higher for women than for men. For example, the estimated lifetime prevalence of anorexia nervosa among Hispanics is roughly .08% in women and .03% in men, of bulimia nervosa is 1.9% in women and 1.3% in men, and of binge eating disorder is 2.3% in women and 1.6% in men (Reyes-Rodriguez et al., 2013). The medical consequences of EDs range from minor to severe and in extreme cases can lead to death (Patmore et al., 2019). Eating disorders are linked to a higher risk of chronic health conditions of disproportionate proportion to Hispanic individuals, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, asthma, and others (O’Brien et al., 2017). Moreover, Hispanic people with a history of EDs are less likely to utilize mental health services and to be referred for further evaluation in comparison to NH White individuals (Reyes-Rodriguez et al., 2013). Thus, Hispanic individuals, particularly women, may face a disproportionate burden of EDs which further exacerbate existing health disparities. Understanding the factors that relate to ED symptoms in early adulthood among Hispanic women is key for informing prevention programs seeking to mitigate the risk of EDs. The little previous research evidence on social media and body dissatisfaction (BD) for Hispanic women suggests that exposure to mainstream social media, which may frequently portray a thin, white, ideal as the beauty standard for all women may pose a risk to BD and ED symptomology of Hispanic women. The previous research on mainstream television and magazine viewing on BD for Hispanic women also suggests that this exposure frequently portrays a thin white ideal as the beauty standard and may pose a risk for BD and ED symptomology for Hispanic women. Since social media on BD and ED symptomology is an emerging field of research and there are several gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed, it is necessary to study mechanisms on social media and on explaining why social media may be a risk factor for eating disorders.



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