Can slimming be a cause of eating disorders? Can media and advertising be responsible for eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia?
Scientific investigations reveal that short term slimming increases the
risk of later developing eating disorders or becoming overweight. The
slimming itself starts a process in the body which reduces the ability to
eat according to the natural need for food.
A study at Harvard of 5865 girls and 4322 boys between 9 and 14 years old,
showed that those who slimmed had a significantly greater chance of
becoming overweight or getting eating disorders.
It has been noticed, since the ‘60s, that a strict diet that
causes a 25% weight loss in a few months can induce in healthy male
volunteers, all the physiological and behavioural changes that we find in eating disorders.
The same phenomenon is found in the animal world. Birds who have starved
because of food shortages may later, when there is plenty to eat, become
fatter than those birds who had continuous free access to food.
Currently, the frequency of dieting has reached vast proportions in the
European population: it is difficult to find a woman, and more and more
frequently a man, who can affirm that they have never really followed a diet.
It is also true, especially among women, that a lot of people live
regularly interchanging dieting periods, with sometimes very strict and normal
eating periods. Therefore, since a lot of people follow strict diets, why
does only 5% of the population suffer from a clinically manifest eating
The answer is that dieting is not enough to cause an eating disorder.
The presence of different biological, social and family factors is
necessary to develop an eating disorder. There must be a psychological
vulnerability that has the consequence that only some people,
who are the ones with particular psychological features, that really risk
developing an eating disorder, that, according to the subject’s
personality traits, could be of one type rather than another.