Magazines 'Could Be Fuelling Eating Disorders' Focus on Celebrities Is Thought to Have an Impact on People at Risk

Article excerpt

Byline: Madeleine Brindley

CELEBRITY gossip magazines can contribute to eating disorders among teenagers, according to a South Wales study. The research, carried out by Cardiff University, involved almost 550 11 to 16-year-olds across South Wales. The researchers studied their reading and television viewing habits and their eating patterns - including whether they skipped meals, fasted for long periods, ate diet foods, forced themselves to be sick after eating, or binged.

Dr James White, a social epidemiologist at Cardiff University, who led the study, said: "We found that those who had strayed into the range of risky eating had a high frequency of viewing gossip magazines.

"We also asked whether they felt under pressure to lose weight from the media and after we took that into account, the influence of gossip magazines was still significant.

"There may not be a direct link between these magazines and eating disorders but they may act as an intermediary step - a proportion of those whose eating becomes disordered will go on to have a fully-blown eating disorder."

Gossip magazines have made a business out of scrutinising every inch of celebrities' bodies and lives. Female celebrities are frequently criticised for putting on weight but praised for becoming thinner, especially following childbirth.

Dr White, who carried out the research with Dr Emma Halliwell, from the University of the West of England, said: "Previous research has shown that exposure to unrealistic ideals - for women it's thin models and for men it's fat-free muscular models - increases the risk of people feeling dissatisfied with what they look like. …