Navigation Links
Fear of getting fat seen in healthy women's brain scans

A group of women in a new study seemed unlikely to have body image issues at least their responses on a tried-and-true psychological screening presented no red flags.

That assessment changed when Brigham Young University researchers used MRI technology to observe what happened in the brain when people viewed images of complete strangers.

If the stranger happened to be overweight and female, it surprisingly activated in women's brains an area that processes identity and self-reflection. Men did not show signs of any self-reflection in similar situations.

"These women have no history of eating disorders and project an attitude that they don't care about body image," said Mark Allen, a BYU neuroscientist. "Yet under the surface is an anxiety about getting fat and the centrality of body image to self."

Allen makes his report with grad student Tyler Owens and BYU psychology professor Diane Spangler in the May issue of the psychological journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Spangler and Allen collaborate on a long-term project to improve treatment of eating disorders by tracking progress with brain imaging. When anorexic and bulimic women view an overweight stranger, the brain's self-reflection center known as the medial prefrontal cortex lights up in ways that suggest extreme unhappiness and in some cases, self-loathing.

The motivation for this new study was to establish a point of reference among a control group of women who scored in the healthy range on eating disorder diagnostic tests. Surprisingly, even this control group exhibited what Allen calls "sub-clinical" issues with body image.

Seeing that, Allen and Owens ran the experiments with a group of men for comparison.

"Although these women's brain activity doesn't look like full-blown eating disorders, they are much closer to it than men are," Allen said.

Spangler says women are bombarded with messages that perpetuate the thin ideal, and the barrage changes how they view themselves.

"Many women learn that bodily appearance and thinness constitute what is important about them, and their brain responding reflects that," Spangler said. "I think it is an unfortunate and false idea to learn about oneself and does put one at greater risk for eating and mood disorders."

"It's like the plant in my office," she continued."It has the potential to grow in any direction, but actually only grows in the direction ofthe window the direction that receives the most reinforcement."


Contact: Joe Hadfield
Brigham Young University

Related medicine news :

1. Getting Through the First 60 Days as a New Parent Just Got Easier
2. Getting heavier, younger: U-M study shows generational shift in obesity
3. New Breast Cancer Book Offers Humor Filled Look at Being Thirty-Something, Single And Getting Through Diagnosis
4. Some Older ER Patients Are Getting the Wrong Medicines, U-M Study Finds
5. Some older ER patients are getting the wrong medicines, U-M study finds
6. Beware of Getting Caught in the Crossfire, Warns MediCare International
7. Panel asks dairy avoiders: Are you getting enough?
8. 57 Million Americans Are on the Brink of Getting Diabetes: A Convenient Lab Test Can Help Pull Them Back
9. Many veterans not getting enough treatment for PTSD
10. Older Stroke Patients Are Getting Better Treatment
11. Are Haitian Women and Children Getting Less Earthquake Aid?
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... "When I underwent ... bras were incredibly uncomfortable," said an inventor from Bronx, N.Y. "In order to ... the patent-pending RECOVERY BRA for added comfort and support. The bra is easier ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Bcureful—a non-profit organization devoted to ... raising public awareness of the disorder while helping to bring expert medical care ... to bolster progress at the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Center at Ann & Robert ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Florida (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... planning and monitoring. Their Care Plan software creates an agreement between the ... patient care plan, including financial, scheduling, monitoring, notification, and projections. Click ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Young patients with a ... Dr. Angela Wolfman and Dr. Kedar S. Lele, who are pediatric dentists in ... and fillings, the WaterLase iPlus 2.0™ system causes minimal discomfort and bleeding to the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... solutions for drugs, biologics, consumer health and global clinical supply services, today announced ... upcoming Clinical Trial Supply East Asia Conference, to be held at the InterContinental ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015  Thanks to a donor with ... Mary,s Medical Center,s Sister Diane Grassilli Center for Women,s ... in San Francisco . ... stepped forward with a gift of $617,320 that allowed ... Mammography with Tomosynthesis and Whole Breast Ultrasound. Tomosynthesis, three-dimensional ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Array BioPharma Inc. (Nasdaq: ... Officer, Ron Squarer , will present at ... York.  The public is welcome to participate in ... BioPharma website.Event:Piper Jaffray Annual Healthcare ConferencePresenter:  , Ron ... 2015Time:1:30 p.m. Eastern Time Webcast: , ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... and VANCOUVER, Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ESSA ... EPIX ) announced today that the first patient ... of EPI-506 as a treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate ... and Canada.  --> the ... In the Phase 1/2 clinical trial, ESSA intends ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: