Researchers Joan Costa-Ront and Mireia Jofre-Bonet, from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), have studied nearly 3,000 young women in Europe to better understand the impact of anorexia in the developed world. They found that social and cultural environment play a very significant role in the decision of many women to start worrying too much about their weight and figure. Therefore, they sustain that governments should be able to ban ads and pictures that spread the notion that over-thinly girls are the beauty ideal.
“The distorted self-perception of women with food disorders and the importance of the peer effects may prompt governments to take action to influence role models and compensate for social pressure on women driving the trade-off between ideal weight and health,” they wrote in the paper.
Researchers found that the highest anorexia rates were in Italy, Ireland and Austria. This last country was the one with the thinnest women, with an average Body Mass Index (BMI) of 23.67, while the European one is at 25. A woman with a BMI of less than 17.5 is classified as anorexic.
Costa-Font, J., & Jofre-Bonet, M. (2012). Anorexia, Body Image and Peer Effects: Evidence from a Sample of European Women Economica DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0335.2011.00912.x