'Skinny Models Can't Be Blamed for Anorexia'

By Morris, Zoe | The Evening Standard (London, England), April 5, 2001 | Go to article overview

'Skinny Models Can't Be Blamed for Anorexia'


Morris, Zoe, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: ZOE MORRIS

COVERS of glossy magazines featuring images of "anorexic looking" models are not to blame for causing eating disorders among teenagers, an expert claims today.

Professor Kenneth Nunn has refuted the "simplistic" view that the use of thin models has specifically contributed to an increase in eating disorders.

He will tell a meeting of international experts in London tonight that the argument is flawed, because not everyone exposed to such images goes on to develop an eating disorder like anorexia.

The media has come under increasing pressure to use "fuller" images of women rather then waif-like catwalk models.

Professor Nunn, a professor of psychology at Sydney University who treats young people with eating disorders, says: "The media can sometimes make people more dissatisfied with their appearance but not everyone who is exposed to the media images goes on to develop anorexia or an eating disorder .

"Their genetic background is a very important factor. If you have someone who is genetically predisposed to anorexia, who is then dealt a few blows in life, they become even more vulnerable."

Professor Nunn also argues that we are less - not more - likely to develop an eating disorder the longer we are exposed to the media, weakening the argument of a direct correlation.

Eating disorders affect about 1.1 million people in the UK, and anorexia has the highest death rate of any psychiatric disorder. However, Professor Nunn argues that it is as common in the Caribbean island of Curaco as it is in parts of Europe, adding: "Obesity is also on the increase, and nobody puts that down to the influence of the media. …

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