Thursday, February 07, 2008

Fat talk and eating disorders

'Fat talk' can be defined as conversations with family and friends pertaining to positive or negative comments about appearance, dieting techniques and the need to lose weight and is common, though not exclusive to, teenage girls an age group particularly at risk for eating disorders. In a 2003 experiment female undergraduates exposed to a 'stooge' who, despite being thin herself, talked about how fat she felt and how much she wanted to lose weight, had significantly increased body dissatisfaction compared to a group who talked to a 'stooge' about neutral topics. A study of 272 college students - male and female - in the U.S. explored this relationship further and found that the frequency of 'fat talk' was positively related to eating pathology and body dissatisfaction in students with and without an eating disorder diagnosis. The most frequently reported topic of 'fat talk' was about other people's appearance rather than the participants'.

Ousley, Louise, Cordero, Elizabeth D. and White, Sabina - Fat talk among college students: how undergraduates communicate regarding food and body weight, shape & appearance Eating Disorders January-February 2008, 16(1), 73-84

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