For years, beauty and fashion magazines have been blamed for creating a culture in which girls hate their bodies and therefore diet incessantly and unhealthfully. Now, researchers at Brigham Young University have found indications that women’s health and fitness magazines may also be contributing to this image problem.
They surveyed nearly 500 high school girls on whether they used laxatives or diet pills, limited their daily calories or made themselves throw up after eating.
The study, published in the June issue of the American Journal of Health Education, found that nearly 80% of the girls who made themselves vomit, 73% of those who used diet pills and 60% of girls who had used laxatives in the previous year were frequent readers of the magazines.
The researchers cautioned that their findings show only that young women who are avid readers of these magazines may be moving toward more unhealthy thoughts about food, without showing whether the thinking prompts their reading, or the reading prompts their thinking.