Teenagers who read gossip magazines are more likely to engage in unhealthy eating behaviours such as binge eating, skipping meals or making themselves sick after meals, according to an ESRC-funded study.
These unhealthy eating behaviours can lead to serious eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, which are a growing public health problem in the UK. Beat, the charity behind Eating Disorders Awareness Week, says that the most accurate statistics available suggest that 1.6 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder, but that the figure could be much higher.
The study, the first to identify an association between media exposure and changes in eating behaviour in teenagers, was led by Dr James White, a research associate at DECIPHer (Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement).
The researchers asked over 500 youngsters from South Wales aged between 11 and 16 to record their eating patterns – includin