"Visual diet," or the images that women see, may be just as critical to their weight preferences as associating certain body types with success, according to research published Nov. 7 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Lynda Boothroyd at Durham University with colleagues from Newcastle University, United Kingdom.
Preferences for a particular body size may result from exposure to images of other women, or from learning that a certain body type is associated with aspirational goals such as high status or better health. To test which of these two influences may be more important in directing women's preferences, the researchers showed women a series of photographs of women of varying weights in high-end clothing, as well as eating-disordered patients in grey leotards. The participants' preferences for particular body types were evaluated before and after they saw different combinations of these pictures.
The results showed that viewing one type of figure, either smaller or larger, increased women's preference for that body type, regardless of whether they were depicted as aspirational or not. To a lesser extent, the researchers also found that exposure to aspirational images of overweight women could induce a preference for larger body types, even in the presence of lower-weight figures in the non-aspirational category. According to the authors, these results show significant support for the effect of a 'visual' diet.
Lead author Boothroyd says, "This really gives us some food for thought about the power of exposure to super-slim bodies. There is evidence that being constantly surrounded through the media by celebrities and models who are very thin contributes to girls and women having an unhealthy attitude to their bodies. Furthermore, it seems that even so-called 'cautionary' images against anorexia might still increase our liking for thinner bodies, such as those featuring the late French model Isabelle Caro, which is a sobering thought."
Public Library of Science: http://www.plos.org
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
The Great War helped create the influenza pandemic of 1918, which eventually brought an early end to the Great War.
In 1986, a two-and-a-half year-old girl named Michelle Funk fell into a stream and drowned. By the time paramedics found her, she hadn’t been breathing for more than an hour. Her heart was stopped. In other words, she was dead.
Political unrest in Pakistan has been a gift to the poliovirus, with 99 cases reported there so far this year. But Rotary International, which has already vaccinated 2 billion children in 122 countries, is hitting back hard
UK scientists model the physical attributes that underpin our social judgements about strangers.
A new study suggests that using media technology may be the wrong way to try to unwind at the end of a hard day
Arizona death row inmate Joseph Wood took almost 2 hours to die – why is a drug combination is being experimented with in the death chamber?
Scientists have discovered what may be the most common virus in people worldwide. The tiny critter doesn't make us sick but may be involved in obesity and diabetes.
Paracetamol, a painkiller universally recommended to treat people with acute low back pain, does not speed recovery or reduce pain from the condition, according to the results of a large trial published on Thursday.
Bone marrow grafts have helped both patients stay all but virus-free for three years. But the disease has come back before in others, and a simpler treatment is needed
Low levels of alcohol can improve your ability to discriminate between different odours, but be warned, the effect is reversed if you drink too much