Second-hand TV exposure linked to eating disorders

January 9th, 2011 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 9 (IANS) For parents anxious about the negative influence of TV on their children, here’s another worry - having friends who watch a lot of TV can be even more damaging to a teen’s body image.A new study suggests that indirect media exposure, i.e. having friends who watch a lot of TV might be damaging to a teen’s body image even if the subject did not have a TV at home.

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 TV at home to see raised risk levels of eating disorder symptoms, according to a Harvard statement.

In fact, by far the biggest factor for eating disorders was how many of a subject’s friends and schoolmates had access to TV.

Lead author Anne Becker, vice-chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard, 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.

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