Junkfood Science: Advertising and media <i>don’t</i> do a body good

November 18, 2006

Advertising and media don’t do a body good

Advertisers and the media are bad news for body image, said Dr. Nicole Hawkins from the Center for Change eating disorder clinic ..."You've got to realize that for advertisers, that's the main goal, to make you feel bad," she said.

And to make that worse, she said, people see on average 400-600 images of thin women every day. Once people feel bad about their body image, they want to do something to fix it....

She quoted statistics that say although 90 percent of women diet regularly, 90 percent of those diets fail after one year and even more fail over a longer time period. By fail she means that not only did dieters gain back all the weight they had lost, but also put on an additional 10 percent.

The obsession with weight isn't just hitting teenagers and women anymore. "We're seeing 5- and 6-year-olds developing eating disorders," she said. She said that by age 5, 14 percent of girls are dieting. By age 9 that number rises to 50 percent, and by age 10 it reaches 80 percent. And that rises even more once the girls hit high school....

One of the suggestions she had to avoid these problems was to avoid "fatism" -- judging people by how much they weigh. Also, she said, consumers need to question the media and be realistic about genetics.

"What we're seeing in the magazines is not genetically possible," she said. She said the models on magazine covers generally have to use all sorts of artificial extras to get that look....

Read full article in the Daily Herald here.

Musing: Concerns over the media messages our young people are exposed to are worthy of our attention, as this story highlights. But today's popular focus on "junk" food advertising is looking in the wrong place.

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