Hanging around the "in crowd" isn't all that it's cracked up to be. According to new research presented by the London School of Economics and Political Science, social pressure is one of the underlying causes of anorexia in women. Such a relationship between social factors and eating disorders could provide health care professionals with a way to combat anorexia in susceptible individuals.
European social scientists used a first-of-its-kind economic analysis of anorexia, sampling approximately 3,000 women across the continent to gain clues about the driving force behind the disorder. What they learned was that peer group pressure has the greatest impact on women's self-image and sinking into the bowels of anorexia.
London School of Economics economist Dr. Joan Costa-Font, speaking at a news briefing said:"More generally it is becoming apparent that standards of physical appearance are important and powerful motivators of human behavior, especially regarding health and food. Excessive preoccupation with self-image is regarded as a contributing factor to the proliferation of food disorders especially among young women."
Costa-Font and her colleague Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet of City University went on to say that peer shape distorts self-perception of the body and contributes to anorexia nervosa.
The scientists' report, which is due to be published in journal Economica later this year, can be regarded as a very accurate assessment of the mindset of women across Europe. Their study included 2871 women between the ages of 15 and 34.
The average body mass index (BMI) for each country is 25 - just at the "overweight" designation - but is 23 for the women in the age 15-34 group. In other words, the BMI of the women involved in the study was within normal range.
According to the analysis, female anorexia nervosa was most prevalent in Austria (1.55 %) followed by France (1.42%) whereas the countries with the lowest percentage of anorexia were the Netherlands and Northern Ireland.
Costa-Font said that public interventions to curtail anorexia were increasingly being used; such actions were aimed at regulating the fashion industry and advertisements as well as encouraging the media and social networks to shed light on the problem.
Anorexia Effects Women's Self-Esteem
Based on the findings of the study, Costa-Font and Jofre-Bonet concluded:"In light of this study, government intervention to adjust individual biases in self-image would be justified to curb or at least prevent the spread of a potential epidemic of food disorders. The distorted self-perception of women with food disorders and the importance or the peer effects may prompt governments to take action to influence role models and compensate for social pressure on women driving the trade-off between ideal weight and health."
The problem of anorexia seems to affect many women in Western societies. In February 2011 I wrote an article that addressed the tendency for many women to harbor dissatisfaction with the shape of their bodies.
Many women who develop a warped sense of self turn to starvation as a means of "fixing" the problem when in fact this only causes them to put their lives at risk. In my article I pointed out that societal pressure driven in large part by the media (and yes, us guys) contributes to the belief that extreme thinness is the epitome of beauty.
Women naturally put on more body fat than men; this fat is needed for reproduction and certain other functions. This is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact it should be celebrated as the design given to women by God, just as the physiology of men is also the design of God. Some women are naturally thin, but those who starve themselves to be thin could get far more than they bargained for.
Anorexia can throw off their menstral cycles, cause them to develop neurological disorders, electrolyte imbalances, heart disease and much more.
In light of all the problems associated with anorexia, you should ask yourself "Is it worth it?"
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Anorexia study backs government ban on underweight models. The London School of Economics and Political Science
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