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Feminist News


May-31-96

British Medical Association Links Media Images of Beauty to Eating Disorders

Yesterday, the British Medical Association (BMA) released a report calling for broad changes in media portrayals of beauty and "ideal" body type. The report argues that "the media's obsession with stick-thin supermodels was contributing to the rise in the number of young women suffering from eating disorders." The BMA calls for a realistic range of body shapes in the media, an emphasis on healthier eating, education on the dangers of poor nutrition and dieting for young women, and a separation between the idea of a healthy body and the stick-thin image of women currently praised in the media.

The BMA notes that eating disorders are caused by a complex interaction of factors including genetics, family history, and socio-cultural factors. BMA Professor Vivienne Nathanson stressed the need to change those factors that we can influence, namely the socio-cultural messages about beauty and body type. The report highlights the alarming "gap between the ideal body shape and reality." The BMA reports that seven million British women and one million British men suffer from eating disorders; the American Anorexia/Bulimia Association (AABA) estimates five percent of adolescent and adult American women and one percent of American men suffer from eating disorders. AABA also reports that 1,000 American women die each year of anorexia nervosa.

Media Resources: Reuters News Net- 31 May, 2000. For more information on eating disorders, visit The American Anorexia/Bulimia Association]