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Media Influence on Eating Disorders

It is nearly impossible to look at the rise in prevalence of eating disorders without exploring the role of media in that meteoric rise. According to The Guardian, the number of 14-year-old girls admitted to hospitals as a result of eating disorders rose from 74 from 2003-2004 to 336 in a calendar year only one decade later. The story for 15-year-old girls was similar, increasing from 87 earlier to 336.

The Guardian suggests that increasing exposure to picture-perfect celebrity bodies in the media may be directly linked to the sharp rise in prevalence of eating disorder hospitalizations. In other words, the media influence on eating disorders is taking a toll – especially among youth.

How Large is the Role Media Plays in the Rise in Eating Disorder Prevalence?

A report appearing in the U.S. National Library of Medicine cites alarming figures about the time U.S. youth spend with media daily, suggesting a direct correlation between excessive exposure to media and eating disorders. For instance, American youth watch up to five hours of television daily and spend an average of six or seven hours viewing media from a variety of sources.

At the same time, the cultural “ideal body” size for women has become considerably leaner and thinner. One example of this came from a study of centerfold models that discovered models body weights today were significantly slimmer than in the late 1970s, reporting that 70 percent of women appearing in centerfolds were underweight and that more than 75 percent of these women weigh less than 85 percent of their ideal body weights.

Going beyond the centerfolds, though, how many commercials appearing in television programming geared toward women, young women in particular, involve weight loss programs, medications, treatments, diet plans, miracle pills, etc.? It doesn’t end there. In 2014, the weight loss industry was a 64 billion-dollar industry.

A Constant Presence

When it comes to eating disorders and the media’s influence, there is no escape. That’s before you even begin to examine the correlations between the rise of social media and eating disorders.

The irony is, even media icons aren’t immune to the pressure the media creates for the “perfect” body. While some would argue that celebrities are victims of eating disorders caused by the media and a constant barrage of fat shaming from sometimes ruthless audiences, the fact remains that many of the people being “fat shamed” have perfectly healthy bodies and good relationships with their bodies.

Remember, centerfold models are often underweight to begin with. Plus, every imperfection has been meticulously airbrushed away before the magazines go to print. Both men and especially women are pressured by constant mediation into attempting to achieve impossible body image standards.

That doesn’t mean that media cannot play a positive role to impact body image and to help promote healthier ideas about weight, fitness, and health. In fact, the more we discuss eating disorders in the media, the greater awareness grows about eating disorders and options the men and women living with eating disorders have available to them for healing.

Give Up the Eating Disorder Self and Embrace the Healthy Self

Monte Nido is dedicated to helping women and men work through negative body image ideas the media has generated to learn to embrace their healthy selves, so they can find healing and acceptance for their bodies and souls.

Monte Nido founder, Carolyn Costin has walked a mile or two in the footsteps of all her patients. She understands the struggles they face and has developed a treatment system that enables them to seek treatment in a judgment-free environment that provides the highest level of care available outside of a hospital, in a homelike setting, surrounded by staff who are empathic, loving, and compassionate – while being unafraid to challenge patients when the situation calls for it.

It is possible to fully recover from an eating disorder. The staff at Monte Nido are instrumental in helping people find that freedom each day by developing individualized treatment programs for each person who seeks treatment at Monte Nido.

It is possible to overcome an eating disorder. It is probable that patients will do so when they have the right help and support they need and someone to walk with them every step of their journeys. That is what patients will find at Monte Nido. Contact Monte Nido today to learn more about the methods they employ and how they can help people living with eating disorders overcome them to live fully recovered lives.