Study leader Ruth Striegel-Moore of Wesleyan University in Connecticut finds the prevalence of binge eating, purging or being "diagnosed for an eating disorder" among American Indian women parallels ethnically white women.
"This commonality between American Indian and white women refutes the myth that eating disorders are problems that only affect white girls and women," Striegel-Moore says in a statement.
The study, published in The International Journal of Eating Disorders, finds no significant difference between eating disorder among American Indian men and ethnically white men.
"Little is known about eating disorder symptoms in Native American populations for several reasons," Striegel-Moore says.
One of the biggest research challenges, she says, is to find an adequate sample size.
Striegel-Moore and colleagues analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data for over 10,000 men and women with a average age of 22. Of these, 236 women and 253 men were either American Indian or Inuit.