April 16, 2010

Women more worried about their body image than men

By Ram

The study published in the May issue of psychological journal Personality and Individual Differences, also showed that even healthy women or those without eating disorders have underlying concerns about their weight and react negatively whenever they see any overweight women.

The study by Brigham Young University showed when thin women were shown pictures of fat or overweight women and asked to imagine themselves like the image, their brain scans showed distress.

In recent times, being size zero is like a fashion statement especially for women. These women of all ages are flocking weight loss and slimming centers to attain their goal weight. This obsession with weight is medically termed as anorexia nervosa or simply, anorexia. This is a psychological disorder where the weight-obsessed women take their consciousness about weight to an extreme that may even lead to physical collapse.

Anorexia usually starts with the desire to look thin and have a super-trimmed body and under tremendous social pressure, this becomes an obsession.

Researchers Mark Allen, a BYU neuroscientist, grad student Tyler Owens and BYU psychology professor Diane Spangler came together on a long-term project to improve eating habits and to treat eating disorders by tracking progress with brain imaging technique. When anorexic and bulimic women view an overweight stranger, the brain’s self-reflection center, known as the medial prefrontal cortex, lights up in ways that suggest extreme unhappiness and in some cases, self-loathing. This clearly increases the pressure to become thin and leave the woman stressed.

The motivation for the study was to put forward a point of reference among a control group of women who scored better on eating disorder diagnostic tests. Women in this group were found to have “sub-clinical issues with body image.

When the same experiments were conducted over men to compare, the women’s brain activity was found much closer to full-blown eating disorders.

According to Spangler, women are bombarded with messages that perpetuate the thin ideal, and the barrage changes how they view themselves.

For many women, bodily appearance and being thin is important and their brain reflects to that idea. This increases the risk of eating and mood disorders.

Reference : http://www.bolohealth.com/news/2826-women-more-worried-about-their-body-image-than-men

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