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Rise in anorexia hospital admissions

17th February 2010

Dr Alex Yellowlees, Medical Director of the Priory Hospital in Glasgow and a Consultant Psychiatrist, warns that our obsession with size zero celebrities might be fuelling the problem of eating disorders in young women.

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The ideal body shape has changed within the last few decades from that of the screen goddesses of the 1950s and 60s – where the average dress size was 12-14 – to the size zero celebrities of today.

Screen icons such as Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe had curvy figures whereas now the likes of Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss are size 8 to 00.

Many women are dissatisfied with their own body in a way that men do not experience because of the degree of scrutiny, analysis and comparison they endure.

The relentless promotion of thinness has put women of all ages under intense pressure as they pursue the cultural myth of thin ideal.

Young women are most vulnerable and this is where mothers can be powerful role models in influencing their daughters regarding body shape.

Self-esteem can be influenced by many factors from childhood experience such as bullying, criticism or sexual abuse and that increases a person’s vulnerability to developing an eating problem.

The media, advertising, fashion and cosmetic industries are all part of the propaganda machine fuelling “collective body dissatisfaction amongst women”.

And it is they that have contributed to the rise in eating disorders such as obsessive dieting, calorie counting, over-exercising, self-induced vomiting, diet pill and laxative abuse in more than a million women in the UK and with that a rise in the number of young girls admitted to hospital with anorexia.

 

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