Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Eating Disorders May Be Contagious

“A study in US high school students provides additional evidence that eating disorders may be contagious. In a study, researchers found that binging, fasting, diet pill use and other eating disorder symptoms clustered within counties, particularly among female students. ‘These findings confirm the strong social influences on female adolescents in the US to be thin, sometimes using unhealthy behaviors to achieve this goal,’ the researchers write in the current issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders. While the study wasn't designed to look at why these behaviors might be clustering in certain counties, the researchers suggest that peer pressure, information sharing or students modeling their behavior on one another are possible mechanisms. Based on their results, the researchers think it may be more effective to target eating disorder prevention efforts to counties or schools where they are more common, rather than individual students.”

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