Does the Media Affect Eating Disorders?

Does the Media Affect Eating Disorders?Although there is evidence that eating disorders have been around for centuries, the frequency of these deadly psychological diseases has skyrocketed in modern times. Anorexia and bulimia have become tragically common, and the media may play a role in this.

How the Media Encourages Eating Disorders

Modern media including films, television, print and music promotes a physical ideal that few healthy women can live up to. The media promotes its image of “beauty” by doing the following:

  • Sending the message that beauty is thinness
  • Promoting unrealistic and unhealthy body sizes in the modeling and advertising world
  • Ridiculing pop music and movie stars if they gain healthy amounts of weight
  • Giving attention and increased fame to celebrities who struggle with eating disorders

As a result of these messages normal, healthy women may feel overweight and unattractive, and balance and health may be sacrificed in favor of indulgence and deprivation. Women and men find that they compare their bodies to an unrealistic, unhealthy and even unnatural model or celebrity. These comparisons can create lasting anxiety and destructive eating habits.

Understanding Eating Disorders

Appetite and eating are heavily influenced by the brain. Chemicals that promote wellbeing are released into the bloodstream when a person eats. Some people are more sensitive to these chemicals than others, so they may become addicted to over or under eating. The psychological community recognizes the following three major eating disorder types:

  • Anorexia nervosa causes an irrational fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. This disorder is often connected to people with control issues and tendencies toward other unhealthy psychological disorders. The disease may cause them to skip meals or engage in unhealthy amounts of exercise.
  • Bulimia results from a person eating too much food then purging it by abusing laxatives or forcing himself to vomit. This disease can deteriorate the gastrointestinal tract as it causes other serious problems.
  • Binge eating describes someone who often eats too much as a form of self-comfort. These people lose control of their food intake and often become severely overweight.

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Successful eating disorder treatment requires intensive personal counseling, support groups, ongoing recovery resources and sometimes forced feeding in a hospital environment. Individuals with eating disorders often suffer from at least one other co-occurring disorder and are at increased risk for substance abuse and addiction. Effective treatment requires that any other disorder is addressed alongside the eating disorder. This can occasionally be offered as outpatient treatment, but inpatient or residential treatment is often much more successful.

Help for Eating Disorders

If you or someone you love has an eating disorder, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today. Our counselors are currently standing by and are eager to answer all of your questions. They can connect you with the best treatment center for your exact needs and can even confirm your insurance coverage. Eating disorders are extremely dangerous. Call for help before it’s too late.