The concern over the use of media as well as the development of healthy living among many of the adolescents today has fundamentally emphasized on issues including the role of media in encouraging sexual behaviors, and encouraging violent solutions to disagreements. Most recently, much of the attention has turned into the manner in which media promotes disordered eating among the adolescents through encouraging the youths to be more sedentary as well as to consume more unhealthful foods, while at the same time suggesting impractical slimness as the ideal for being beautiful. The application of electronic advertisements, which comprises of television sets, audio, video clips, movies, in addition to video gaming, are now progressively incorporated into the material of lifetime apart from performing an essential part. However, such media can tremendously impact on the healthy and eating habits of children in a number of ways. Thus, this specific review seeks to look negative association between eating issues of adolescents and the influence of media advertisements. In doing so, the paper will identify the ways in which media has negatively impacted on eating disorders among the adolescents (Slevec |&Tiggemann, 2011).
Obesity and Overweight among Adolescents
Obesity among children is often described as a pandemic, and its affects a large number of adolescents. Moreover, the impact of obesity among children takes a very high proportion, and more than 9 million children in the United States are suffering from this disorder. This condition places many of the adolescents at risk for a host of medical complications. Additionally, following an incredibly sharp rise in the incidence of obese within 1980s in addition to 1990, recent information shows that the involving weight among youths has considerably augmented. However, this issue remains to be very serious because more than one third, approximately 34 percent of adolescents aged between 12 and 19 years are the most affected group. Among the adolescent girls, approximately 44 percent of black and 37 of the Mexican American girls are affected. Moreover, about 40 percent of Mexican American boys are affected (Swami, Taylor, & Carvalho, 2011).
Even though the public discussion concerning the issue of childhood overweight and obesity has greatly increased, a more recent study indicates low levels of parental recognition and concern in regard to children overweight. A majority of adolescents who are overweight risk being also overweight when they become adults. Besides, the various medical risks that are related to overweight in adulthood are extensively known and comprises not only issues of heart attack and high blood pressure, but also many other forms of cancer.
Dieting Trends among Adolescents
Whereas there are a number of trends towards increasing levels of overweight in the western nations, for instance, in the United Kingdom 17 percent of men and 20 percent of women are obese and almost half of the population is overweight. Some studies have demonstrated that there is a very high prevalence of eating disorders among adolescent girls over the last few years. In the recent times, a large number of adolescents are basically worried about issues in regard to their body image as well as size, figure, and weight. Moreover, research also indicate that young people often report dissatisfaction and others, especially adolescent girls experience more body dissatisfaction as compared to boys. Many of the adolescent girls want to lose their weights as adolescent boys want to be bigger and stronger (Swami, Taylor, & Carvalho, 2011). Hence, women images in the media together with personalities often act as the salient element intended for visual appeal norms and gives the persuasive interpersonal atmosphere in which both ladies and females can examine their health. Moreover, several studies including both longitudinal and experimental reports have established that augmented exposure of idealized images involving attraction with the majority of the entertainment mass media substantially reflects the increased concerns and eating problems among the adolescent children.
The Use of Media and Eating Disorders among Adolescents
Irrespective of the increased levels of obesity among many of the adolescents, particularly in the United States, the media depiction of ideal bodies has increasingly reduced over the last few years. It has been found out that more than half of the American female beauty characters suffer from anorexia. Moreover, along with this trend of slimming, there has been an increasing prevalence of eating disorder, especially among many of the adolescent girls. Research continues to demonstrate that approximately 44 percent of teenage girls consider themselves overweight, and 66 percent of the adolescent girls deliberately endeavor to lose weight, even though many of them weigh the normal range. Besides, the desire or urge to be slim or thinner has been established to be more prevalent among adolescent girls as compared to boys.
According to Slevec and Tiggemann (2011), the adolescents’ heavy media consumption, especially with female adolescents, is related with body dissatisfaction. Studies reveal that girls who want to look like media icons on television, popular magazines, or movies are twice as likely to be much concerned with their body weight and often engage in purging habits. Other studies indicate that 69 percent of adolescent girls’ ideal bodies are affected by images in magazines, movies, and television. Furthermore, 47 percent of these adolescent girls are believed to wanting to lose weight due to these images.
According to Swami, Taylor, and Carvalho (2011), many of the adolescents who are greatly dissatisfied with their bodies usually go to unhealthful extremes in their endeavors to become slim or thinner. It is approximated that approximately 0.5 percent of adolescents in the western nations suffers from anorexia and comprise of the more than eight million Americans with eating disorders. In addition, it is believed that psychologically affected adolescents, including adolescents with low self-esteem, are at a very high risk of developing eating problems.
Electronic media in a compelling way helps in the promotion of food that is very high in fat as well as calories. As a result, many of the adolescents are putting more weight, and this has tremendously increased the gap among normal and ideal body, thus giving rise to a great anxiety among adolescents. Therefore, in order to get rid of this anxiety, many of the adolescents try to reduce their levels of weight and more often than not, they prefer methods that go on a diet. This presents a vicious circle that is unhealthy, since it leads adolescents into disturbed relationships with foods. The effect of exposure to thin body images through the media has been found to be significantly negative, particularly among adolescents. This effect is considerably stronger among the female adolescents as compared to adolescent males. This implies that media plays as a significant factor, which motivates many of the adolescent girls to wish and desire for thinner body images (Slevec & Tiggemann, 2011).
Recent studies have pointed out to three fundamental and dominant mechanisms in which media conveys messages that construct as well as reinforce social behaviors for body ideals to adolescents, particularly female adolescents. These mechanisms comprise the major function of electronic media in developing believes concerning beauty in earlier upbringing of adolescents, the resonance of thin or slim-ideal messages in interpersonal norms, and interactions among teens, and the cultivation of body dissatisfaction among adolescent girls.
The use of media among adolescents may nurture believes concerning beauty as well as body ideals in the early stages of children development, which might be very asymptomatic through adolescence stage. The theory of cultivation suggests that the repeated exposure to unhealthful thin body images in electronic media may make children to develop deep-seated believes as well as perceptions of certain body images. Many children as young as six years of age may absorb as well as espouse the belief that slimness or thinness is fundamentally important for body beauty.
The internalization of an ideal image among the youths marks the level in which these teens have adopted slender body images, which is mostly accepted by many of the communities in their efforts to accomplish excellent body images. The function that is performed by media towards the approval as well as internalization of slender images may be reflected through the consumption of heavy media contents by many of the teens. Hence, as many of the teens amass the experiences of slender images, many of them especially females, begin to believe that in order to be desired or attractive, one must adopt a slim body image. In essence, repeated exposures to thin ideal bodies over electronic media render most adolescents the building blocks for developing schema in regard to body images. As a result, this may offer the basis for later development of disordered eating behaviors, body dissatisfaction, as well as eating complications.
The acceptance of thin ideal bodies among children may not grow to be overly problematic until they reach their adolescence stage. Many researcher clarify the delayed impact of believes concerning body image among children using two ways. First, children tend to be naturally thin at tender ages due to high levels of physical activities and metabolism. Thus, children’s bodies may in fact emulate the ultra-slim, fatless bodies, and icons in electronic media. Secondly, the focus on extreme slimness in media tend to focus more on adult women, therefore, it is very difficult that children fail to compare their bodies with this women yet. However, even though majority of the children may not develop instant image discontent from repeated to the thin promoting media, much of the research indicate that heavy consumption of media might bear a more insidious effect (Tiggemann, 2003).
Concerning the media messages that resonate about foods, beauty, and body exercise, children are never brought up in a setting that they subconsciously accept every mediated message that they receive. Instead, many of the children form perceptions as well as beliefs based on a number of factors, including interpersonal factors such as peers and families. Thus, the socio-cultural model, which marks the second mechanism of mediated message, espouses that adolescent girls get consistent messages concerning image ideals from a variety of influential factors, which includes the various forms of electronic media. Tiggemann (2003) argues that majority of the preadolescents who often view and read a variety of appearance-based electronic media are most likely to engage in peer conversations regarding physical appearance and body dissatisfaction. A large number of the teens receive obtain information concerning slender ideals from various source, including books and magazines. Moreover, the information obtained is used for different reasons by the teens.
According to Shomaker and Furman (2010), changes in terms of physical change during the period of adolescence make many of the electronic media messages more powerful, which as a result stimulate body dissatisfaction among adolescents. Therefore, heavy media exposure during childhood makes many children to develop beliefs concerning body standards, which further lays the foundation for future body image and food problems. As many of the children enter adolescent stage, they often encounter body changes, which mould their schema around body image more outstanding. Research indicates that many of these adolescents usually take part in social comparison with idealized icons in the media, where they often compare themselves with others.
As many of the adolescents find their bodies considerably diverging from the unhealthful thin bodies over the media, they tend to become much dissatisfied with their bodies and might as a result engage in body-image distortion. Mostly, distortion of body image happens when individuals have inaccurate or wrong perception of their body sizes, which can be a significant predictor of body-image problems, including issues, such as eating disorders. Many of the adolescent girls are at a much more risk of developing eating issues since majority of them struggle with weight in a culture that at the time sells them junk foods and informs them that they should be slim or thin. Therefore, body dissatisfaction as well as image disturbance marks the key signs to the development of harmful eating problems, such as anorexia. The link between the development of anorexia and electronic media has been found to be very strong among the adolescents, especially adolescent girls.
Shomaker, L., & Furman, W. (2010). A prospective investigation of interpersonal influences on the pursuit of muscularity in late adolescent boys and girls. Journal of Health Psychology, 15(3), 391-404.
Slevec, J., & Tiggemann, M. (2011). Media Exposure, Body Dissatisfaction, and Disordered Eating in Middle-aged Women: A Test of the Sociocultural Model of Disordered Eating. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 35(4), 617-627.
Tiggemann, M. (2003). Media exposure, body dissatisfaction and disordered eating: television and magazines are not the same!. European Eating Disorders Review, 11(5), 418-430.
Swami, V., Taylor, R., & Carvalho, C. (2011).Body dissatisfaction assessed by the Photographic Figure Rating Scale is associated with sociocultural, personality, and media influences. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 52(1), 57-63.