Navigation Links
Secondhand television exposure linked to eating disorders
Date:1/6/2011

Boston, MA (January 5, 2010) For parents wanting to reduce the negative influence of TV on their children, the first step is normally to switch off the television set.

But a new study suggests that might not be enough. It turns out indirect media exposure, i.e., having friends who watch a lot of TV, might be even more damaging to a teenager's body image.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine examined the link between media consumption and eating disorders among adolescent girls in Fiji.

What they found was surprising. The study's subjects did not even need to have a television at home to see raised risk levels of eating disorder symptoms.

In fact, by far the biggest factor for eating disorders was how many of a subject's friends and schoolmates had access to TV. By contrast, researchers found that direct forms of exposure, like personal or parental viewing, did not have an independent impact, when factors like urban location, body shape and other influences were taken into account.

It appeared that changing attitudes within a group that had been exposed to television were a more powerful factor than actually watching the programs themselves. In fact, higher peer media exposure were linked to a 60 percent increase in a girl's odds of having a high level of eating disorder symptoms, independently of her own viewing.

Lead author Anne Becker, vice chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said this was the first study to attempt to quantify the role of social networks in spreading the negative consequences of media consumption on eating disorders.

"Our findings suggest that social network exposure is not just a minor influence on eating pathology here, but rather, IS the exposure of concern," she said.

"If you are a parent and you are concerned about limiting cultural exposure, it simply isn't going to be enough to switch off the TV. If you are going to think about interventions, it would have to be at a community or peer-based level."

Becker hopes the paper will encourage debate about responsible programming and the regulation of media content to prevent children from secondhand exposure.

"Up until now, it has been very difficult to get people who produce media as entertainment to come to the table and think about how they might ensure that their products are not harmful to children," she said.

This is Becker's second study of media's impact in Fiji, which is an ideal location for broadcast media research because of the recent arrival of television, in the 1990s, and the significant regional variations in exposure to TV, the Internet and print media. Some remote areas in the recent study still did not have electricity, cell phone reception, television or the Internet when the data were collected in 2007.

Her first study found a rise in eating disorder symptoms among adolescent girls following the introduction of broadcast television to the island nation in 1995.

What makes Fiji a particularly interesting case is that traditional culture prizes a robust body shape, in sharp contrast to the image presented by Western television shows such as Beverly Hills 90210, Seinfeld and Melrose Place, which were quite popular in Fiji when television debuted there in the 1990s.

Girls would see actresses as role models, says Becker, and began noting how a slender body shape was often accompanied by success in those shows. This perception appears to have been one of the factors leading to a rise in eating pathology among the Fijian teenagers.

But until now, it was not known how much of this effect came from an individual's social network.

Nicholas Christakis, professor of medical sociology in the department of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, has studied the spread of health problems through social networks.

"It shouldn't be that surprising to us, even though it is intriguing, that the indirect effects of media are greater," Christakis said. "Most people aren't paying attention to the media, but they are paying attention to what their friends say about what's in the media. It's a kind of filtration process that takes place by virtue of our social networks."

Becker says that although the study focused on Fijian schoolgirls, remote from the US, it warrants concern and further investigation of the health impact on other populations.


'/>"/>

Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Exposure to secondhand smoke among children in England has declined since 1996
2. Research finds hazards from secondhand smoke in bars and restaurants
3. Secondhand Smoke Starts Damaging Arteries in Childhood
4. Secondhand Smoke Boosts Sinusitis Risk
5. Smoke-free air laws effective at protecting children from secondhand smoke
6. Secondhand Smoke May Put Kids at Risk for Diseases
7. Majority of Americans Approve of President Obamas Handling of Afghanistan and National Security But Disapprove of Handling of Economic Issues, Per Franklin & Marshall College Poll With Hearst Television
8. Sharing Miracles Television Program to Feature Legendary College Football Coach Bobby Bowden
9. Reliant Healthcare's Innovative Approach to Inpatient Rehab Profiled on spark360 "Social Business Television" Program
10. AngioDynamics' VenaCure EVLTTM System for Varicose Veins To Be Featured On 'The Doctors' National Television Program
11. Jion Beijing Great Wall International Travel Agency Immediate Exposure to China Expo 2010
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... April 25, 2017 , ... Emergency Physician and Distinguished ... the Outlier Leadership Series, Outliers in Writing, set to publish in summer 2017. ... Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He also serves as Medical ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... GA (PRWEB) , ... April 25, 2017 , ... ... and instrument solutions, announces the continuation of its strategic partnership with and platinum ... in developing nations in the safe and effective management of complex spine deformity ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... Nashville, TN (PRWEB) , ... April 24, 2017 , ... ... electrifying fans and transforming the quarterback position. The former overall number one pick in ... his professional football career. He holds the record for the most career rushing yards ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... ... April 24, 2017 , ... As part of the ... to honor the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution, Center for Medicine ... and Auschwitz on its CMATH Champions trip to Germany and Poland next week. , ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... ... , ... Today, Bright Pink , a national non-profit organization focusing on the prevention and ... , Bright Pink is proud to announce Katie Thiede as their new Chief Executive Officer. ... as Chairman of the Board and launched a national search to find a visionary ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/19/2017)... , April 19, 2017 The Mobile X-Ray product ... a healthy CAGR during the forecast period Mobile ... the global digital mobile X-Ray devices market, which is estimated ... 2017, expanding at a CAGR of 7% over the forecast ... opportunity of more than US$ 100 Mn in 2017 over ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... Tenn. and DALLAS , April 19, 2017 ... announced that the first patients in Nashville ... device in the Lower Esophageal Sphincter Stimulation for GERD ... implantable device designed to provide long-term reflux control by ... GERD affects nearly 65 million people in ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... BOSTON , April 19, 2017  New research provides ... with advanced Parkinson,s, according to a study released today that ... 69th Annual Meeting in Boston , ... comes to the treatment of Parkinson,s disease, the oral drug ... of life and longevity. But as the disease progresses, the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: