Health Watch - A Matter of Mind: Thinking Too Thin

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about how your attitudes and mindset can affect your health. Those attitudes can come from images in the media, and they can be dangerous.

The media show us images of extremely thin women and teenage girls and make being thin look glamorous. This appears to be influencing young girls. Dr. Stephanie Setliff, a psychologist and expert on eating disorders at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the age of diagnosis for eating disorders is getting younger. Images of ultra-thin models and actresses help increase the pressure women and girls feel to live up to those skewed ideas of perfection.

Of course, not all women and girls are influenced by these images. Personality, temperament, genetics and family dynamics also play a role in eating disorders. Parents can help by modeling healthy attitudes about food and body image. They should also watch for warning signs like obsession with food and exercise, spending less time with friends and spending more time in the bathroom, especially after meals.       


January 2011

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