View Full Version : Diet articles cause eating disorders (study)

2nd January 2007, 13:54
<br>Joe Michaels has kindly forwarded to us the following shocking new article, which, as Mr. Michaels notes, provides <i>"Scientific evidence that reading [diet propaganda] is hazardous to your health! (Like that wasn't obvious already)."</i>

Although these findings will not surprise anyone who reads this forum, the publication of this study is nevertheless a bombshell, as it further proves just how destructive <i>any</i> form of weight-control brainwashing is, for young women.

The full article appears <a href="http://cnn.health.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=Girls+who+read+diet+articles+later+show+signs+of+eating+disorders+-+CNN.com&expire=&urlID=20673946&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2007%2FHEALTH%2F01%2F01%2Fdiet.girls.magazines.ap%2Findex.html&partnerID=2012" target="_blank">here</a>, with the significant text posted below:<p><center>* * *</center><p><blockquote><strong>Girls who read diet articles later show signs of eating disorders

11:27 a.m. EST, January 2, 2007 </strong>

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Magazine headlines entice teenage girls with promises: "Get the body you want" and "Hit your dream weight now!" But a new study suggests reading articles about diet and weight loss could have unhealthy consequences later.

Teenage girls who frequently read magazine articles about dieting were more likely five years later to practice extreme weight-loss measures...than girls who never read such articles, the University of Minnesota study found.

It didn't seem to matter whether the girls were overweight when they started reading about weight loss, nor whether they considered their weight important. After taking those factors into account, researchers still found <strong>reading articles about dieting predicted later unhealthy weight loss behavior</strong>.

Girls in middle school who read dieting articles were twice as likely five years later to try to lose weight by [life-threatening measures], the study found...

The study appeared in January's issue of the journal <i>Pediatrics.</i>

Its findings were based on surveys and weight-height measurements of 2,516 middle school students in 1999 and again in 2004. About 45 percent of the students were boys.

Only 14 percent of boys reported reading diet articles frequently, compared with 44 percent of girls. For those boys who did read about weight loss, there was no similar lasting effect on behavior.

In the new study, it was <strong>unclear whether it was the diet articles themselves or accompanying photographs of thin models that made a difference</strong>. The study didn't ask teenagers which magazines they read, only how frequently they read magazine articles "in which dieting or weight loss are discussed."...

She said parents should carefully consider whether they want their daughters reading about weight loss.

"It possibly would be <strong>helpful to teen girls if their mothers <i>didn't</i> have those types of magazines around</strong>," van den Berg said. Parents also should discuss magazines' messages with their daughters, she said.

"Talk to your kids about where these messages are coming from," she said.

Doctors' waiting rooms are no place for magazines promoting diet and weight loss, she said, "in the same way you don't have materials promoting smoking in waiting rooms."...

The study <strong>adds to evidence that girls' attitudes toward their bodies are shaped by popular culture</strong>.

<strong>Previous studies have found that images of thin fashion models give girls immediate negative feelings about their bodies</strong>. Public awareness of the issue increased in September when Madrid's Fashion Week banned underweight models and again with the November 14 death of anorexic Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston.</blockquote><p><center>* * *</center><p>This study also reveals how pervasive this problem is, as there is not a single women's magazine on the market, except for <i>Figure,</i> which does <i>not</i> run precisely the kind of diet articles (accompanied by images of underweight models) that this study identifies as casuing harmful and potentially life-threatening behaviour.

It adds urgendy to the need for an alternative media, comprising magazines that refuse to run <i>any</i> weight-loss articles, or images of emaciated models; and that instead publish images of gorgeous plus-size models, accompanied by articles encouraging women to eat whatever they like, to love their naturally full figures, all governed by an aesthetic preference for plus-size beauty.

Kati Kochanski (Irene Marie, size 14), from a recent newspaper story:<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/kk/press.jpg"></center>

M. Lopez
2nd January 2007, 16:03
These findings are extremely important, as they provide irrefutable evidence that can be referenced when the mass media is taken to task for causing and exacerbating eating disorders. The old excuses by magazines ("We're not at fault") are now exposed for the lies that they always were.

Running pro-starvation articles is just as irresponsible (and cruel) by magazines, as if they would run pro-smoking or pro-narcotics articles. It's astonishing that such publishing practices have been blithely accepted for so long.

The study also proves what many people intuitively suspected: that any form of weight loss is a step towards an eating disorder. Not only should parents ban magazines that promote these harmful practices, but they should actively discourage their daughters from all forms of starvation, and should do everthing they can to encourage a completely comfortable attitude towards eating, and unconditional satisfaction with their curvaceous appearance.

3rd January 2007, 18:26
researchers still found reading articles about dieting predicted later unhealthy weight loss behavior.
These findings are very disturbing, but what's even more appalling is how little attention this extremely important study has been given. Over the past few days, this CNN article is the only time I've ever seen it mentioned. And yet, in the same time, the press has been blasting away with anti-plus, curve-hating propaganda by the truckfull. The weight hysteria has reached truly epidemic proportions these last few days, especially since New Year's.

I'm glad that at least one news organization devoted attention to these findings, but the media is still overwhelmingly biased against curvy women. Whether they are that way because the diet industry pays their bills, or because of their own innate prejudice, it's nothing less than a scandal- especially since this study proves just how much damage their pro-starvation brainwashing does, and how it ruins the lives of so many young women.

The same media that claims to push for "corporate accountability" is itself behaving in an incredibly irresponsible way, with its thin-supremacist dogma.

4th January 2007, 20:59
"It possibly would be helpful to teen girls if their mothers didn't have those types of magazines around," van den Berg said. Parents also should discuss magazines' messages with their daughters, she said.
I agree that this would be "helpful," but to expect it puts an impossible burden on parents.

What chance do parents have to protect their daughters from popular culture, which is everywhere, and all around them -- today more than ever?

Remember, the mother of Ana Carolina Reston (the model who died of anorexia) begged her daughter to get help, but her daughter brushed her off, and refused to acknowledge that she had a problem. Short of tying her down and feeding her intravenously, what could she have done?

While "parental responsibility" is important (Kate Winslet bans magazines from her house, for this very reason), this is a too-convenient way for the publishing industry to evade its responsibility. Magazines shouldn't be publishing these harmful articles in the first place.

And of course, there is zero chance that these findings will influence the diet industry in any way -- the industry without a conscience, the industry whose very existence depends on destroying the self-esteem of all women. Even the fashion industry might begin to acknowledge its responsibility to cultural health, but the starvation profiteers never will.

Therefore, the publishing industry may be even more in need of external regulation (in this regard) than fashion.

What would be a good first step? No more diet articles. Period. That would do more good for women than just about any cultural development that anyone could imagine.

8th January 2007, 02:50
The study adds to evidence that girls' attitudes toward their bodies are shaped by popular culture</strong>.

Previous studies have found that images of thin fashion models give girls immediate negative feelings about their bodies
"Shaped by popular culture," definitely - and shaped by the environment around them. Since the evidence is mounting that young women are influenced by what they read, it is likely that pro-diet talk on discussion forums (which is rampant) also has the same harmful effects.

Its regrettable enough to see pro-starvation brainwashing in magazines, but to see this propaganda reproduced on public forums is sickening. The older generation reinforces their negative own body image this way, and worse, passes it on to the younger generation, like an infection.

I hope articles like this achieve some "deprogramming" effect, but there needs to be an all-out quarantine. Magazines must start banning diet ads and articles, but it would also be extremely helpful if more forums put a stop to weight-loss advocacy too, and instead, favoured exclusively size-positive discussions.

Everyone has a responsibility to end this destructive cycle.

9th January 2007, 21:18
In this battle against the diet industry and its satellite industries there needs to be a two-pronged effort. One is using social/political pressure on the fashion and beauty industry to correct the damage they've done to society. A more personal way of counteracting these negative images and influences is to create message forums, web logs, articles, or even podcasts that reinforce plus-size beauty, and expose the diet and weight-loss industries for the scams that they are. For every woman who is still enslaved to the thin ideal, I believe that there is one who is looking for an alternative, a different view from what they see in the media. Alternative voices become very important in such circumstances.

I was wondering: What could be the positive opposite of diet articles? Articles about beautiful women who aren't afraid of eating. Women like Nigella Lawson, Sophia Loren, Kate Winslet have all made positive comments about food. Loren's famous quote "Everything you see I owe to spaghetti" is one of my favorites. It would be nice if there were a magazine or a book that gathered these kinds of positive comments by women in the spotlight who DON'T look like starving victims, together with gorgeous photographic layouts of each woman, and a short write-up about how she loves the way she looks, and even her favorite foods. In fact it would be nice to see a number of magazines do this on a regular basis.