Prevalence of Eating Disorders

The Prevalence of Eating Disorders among Young Girls in Today’s Society. Due to the prevalence of mass-media advertising in the United States, eating disorders among young girls are more pervasive in the U. S. than other well-developed countries. According to the estimates of The National Institute of Mental Health in the US, “between 5 – 10% (i. e. 5-10 million people) of girls and women suffer from eating disorders (Hastings et. al. , 2002). ” Eating disorders, specifically binge eating disorder, is also becoming a serious problem in the United Kingdom. A survey conducted in 2001 found that 8. % obesity levels are found in children ages 6 years old and 15% among children aged 15 years old. Moreover, 165,000 people, in which 90% are women, are affected by anorexia and bulimia and it is estimated that one out of ten of these people will die as a result of their ED (Hastings et. al. , 2002). Eating disorders are also beginning to rise and are becoming a growing health challenge in developed countries in Asia. According to British Medical Journal, one of the reasons why the cases of eating disorders are increasing in Asia is because of the ultra-thin model image shown in television advertisements by Western media (Edell, 2000).

Eating disorders have been found mostly in high-income and well-developed East Asian countries such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea. Despite the fact that young Asian females are already “slim by western standards”, it is the ‘thin-is-beautiful’ ideal that came form the West that is one of the major reasons why cases of ED in Asia is increasing (Lee, 1998). Problematic eating behaviors towards fear of fatness have also been found in the urban areas of low-income countries such as China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines (Lee, 1998).

No one can tell whether eating disorders among young girls in the Philippines is increasing because there are no statistics and reports about eating disorders among young girls or Filipinos in general (Gamalinda, 2007). This, however, does not mean that there are no cases of eating disorders among young girls in the Philippines. Eating disorders may not be considered as an important medical problem in the Philippines because there are only a minority of Filipino girls who are suffering and being medicated from the said medical problem.

The government may not see this as a concern because being a third world country they know that most of the people in the Philippines are more concerned with have three nutritional meals a day. Thus, “eating disorders are least likely to occur (Gamalinda, 2007). ” Advertising is one of the Most Common Factors that Contribute to Eating Disorders among Young Girls. It is possible that the three kinds of eating disorders mentioned earlier may spring from advertising.

It only depends on the kind of advertising a person is exposed to. Selective representation of the female body in advertising may cause anorexia and bulimia nervosa among young girls. On the other hand, food advertisements, specifically junk food advertisements, may cause binge eating disorder. Selective representation of the female body in advertising may be rooted from the fact that advertisers are trying to sell a product and they have to attract consumers and rise above the clutter when they do so that they will be noticed.

Hence, advertisers select body images of females that they think will be able to attract consumers when they see the advertising materials. The most widely represented body image of females in advertising is the image of ultra-thin sized models. This tells us that “there is a widespread belief among advertisers that ‘thinness sells’” (Clay et. al. , 2005). Another study conducted by the Society for Research on Adolescence found that girls aged 11 – 16 who are exposed to the ‘ultra-thin woman’ image do not only lower their body satisfaction but also their self-esteem.

There is a close association between body image and self-esteem among adolescent girls in developed mass consumer societies because to them body image and perception tells your self-worth. Adolescent girls, due to media and other factors e. g. friends, are led to believe that “appearance is an important basis for self-evaluation and for evaluation by others” (Clay et. al. , 2005). These studies show that selective representation of the female body in advertising affects adolescent girls emotionally that leads them to have lower self-esteem and body satisfaction.

These emotions that they experience when they are being exposed to advertisements that focus on ultra-thin models cause them to have eating disorders. These adolescent girls would try to be as thin as the ultra-thin models in advertisements through various means such as exercising, dieting and the like. And when they obsess on their body weight and when the activities they do to make themselves thin go too far they develop anorexia and bulimia.