Magazine article USA TODAY

Is Desire to Be Thin in Women's Genes?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Is Desire to Be Thin in Women's Genes?

Article excerpt

Genetics may make some women more vulnerable to the pressure of being thin, a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders has found. From size-zero models to airbrushed film stars, thinness is portrayed as equaling beauty across Western culture, and it is an ideal often cited as a cause of eating disorder symptoms in young women.

The researchers focused on the potential psychological impact of women buying into this perceived ideal of thinness. Changes in self-perception and behavior, caused by this idealization, can lead to body dissatisfaction, a preoccupation with weight, and other symptoms of eating disorders.

"We're all bombarded daily with messages extolling the virtues of being thin yet, intriguingly, only some women develop what we term thin ideal internalization:' notes Jessica Suisman, a researcher in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University, East Lansing, and lead author on the study. 'This suggests that genetic factors may make soma women more susceptible to this pressure than others."

Analysis shows that the heritability of thin idealization is 43%, meaning that almost half of the reason women differ in their idealization of thinness can be explained by differences in genetic make-up. …

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