For years, fashion magazines have taken the heat for displaying unrealistic body types and causing young women to cringe at the sight of their own, normal figures. But now experts are pointing the finger squarely at health and fitness magazines, as well. Researchers at Brigham Young University surveyed nearly 500 high school girls about their exercise and weight-loss methods, and about the magazines they read. Eating disorders were common, and slightly more than half the girls surveyed said they restricted their calories to less than 1,200 per day. About 92 percent of the girls reported reading health and fitness magazines, with about half reading them at least once per month. However, the girls who used diet pills, laxatives, vomiting or restricted diets to lose weight were more likely than their non-dieting peers to read health and fitness magazines. Though the researchers would not go so far as to conclude that these magazines are the cause of the girls’ eating disorders, they do believe that they may help perpetuate or reinforce unhealthy behaviors.
Source: American Journal of Health Education 2001; 32, 130-135