Friday, January 07, 2011

Even second-hand TV can increase the risk of eating disorders

The mixed blessings of broadcast television only arrived in Fiji in 1995 which makes it an ideal place to research its effects. Researchers from Harvard Medical School have been looking into the effects of media consumption on eating disorders in adolescent girls there and found that the girls participating in the study did not even need to have a TV at home themselves in order to see a raised risk of eating-disorder symptoms. In fact, by far the biggest factor for eating disorders was how many of a subject's friends and schoolmates had access to TV. By contrast, researchers found that direct forms of exposure, like personal or parental viewing, did not have an independent impact, when factors like urban location, body shape and other influences were taken into account. Higher exposure to TV among a girl's peer group was linked to a 60% increase in the odds of having a high level of eating-disorder symptoms. The study is particularly interesting as Fijian culture traditionally prizes a fuller-figure among women.

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