Eating Disorder Study Stresses Need for 'Real Women' Role Models; CAMPAIGNERS WANT PUPILS TO BE TAUGHT SELF-ESTEEM
Byline: MADELEINE BRINDLEY
NEW research has identified "excessive preoccupation with self-image" as a leading factor in the development of eating disorders.
The study, by the influential London School of Economics and Political Science, highlights the need for "real" images of women to be used in fashion and beauty magazines.
And it endorses government attempts to regulate the use of super-skinny models in fashion shows.
Campaigners in Wales said the research also underlines the need for schools to teach children about self-esteem to help improve their sense of body image.
The first economic analysis of anorexia describes the eating disorder as a "socially-transmitted disease" and highlights peer group pressure as the most significant influence on self-image and the development of anorexia.
Economist Dr Joan Costa-Font, joint author of the research, said: "Policy interventions to try to curb eating disorders are increasingly being used, such as the regulation of the fashion industry and advertisements, as well as support campaigns through social networks and the media.
"In some European countries, there has been increasing debate over the conditions, especially since the Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died from anorexia in 2006.
"More generally, it is becoming increasingly apparent that standards of physical appearance are important and powerful motivators of human behaviour, 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.
"Anorexia, together with other food disorders such as bulimia nervosa, can be characterised by a distorted body image accompanied by an eating obsession.
"We found evidence that social pressure, through peer shape, is a determinant in explaining anorexia nervosa and a distorted self-perception of one's own body. …