"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.
An unvaccinated child who went to the doctor with measles in Oakland, California, sends another baby to quarantine, leaving one mom to ask why. "Their choice endangered my child," she says.
Lethargic mice unexpectedly perk up when injected with immune cells from bullied mice, a discovery which could point to new depression treatments
People are able to read better when their visual processing is more sensitive to auditory information
The outbreak has so far claimed 8,795 lives across the affected West African region
Naked mole rats enjoy exceptionally long, healthy lives, and there's more than good genes at work
Scientists say impact of bringing forward girl’s first period by 2.7 months is likely to be modest
Melbourne-based study of children given nut protein with probiotic has transformed the lives of 80% of those who took part in clinical trial
Sunshine police take note, the latest guidelines from the UK's health advisory body NICE suggest we should actively seek out some rays
Choosing the viral targets for the seasonal flu vaccine is a gamble. Sometimes, like this year, the flu wins
Predicted lung cancer deaths for women in Europe set to reach 14.24 per 100,000 of population in 2015