Conditions

Anorexia Not Entirely The Media's Fault, Says 59% Of Meetville Poll Respondents

anorexia
The media can often trigger anorexia in already unstable individuals. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Is the media to blame for eating disorders? I’m surely not the first to pose the question, and I doubt I’ll be the last. A recent poll given by the dating app Meetville revealed that 59 percent of respondents believed that the media influence on anorexia is largely exaggerated. However, doctors who specialize in anorexic patients explain that, although it’s not fair to put all the blame on the media, it’s important that we also be aware of the role it does play in this life-threatening eating disorder.

Meetville.com recently conducted a survey to see just how big of a role the public felt media played in anorexia. “We felt it was of utmost importance to carry out this poll, as the scale of the problem should be by no means underestimated,” explained Alex Cusper, a Meetville service analyst on the company’s blog. The poll had 31,425 respondents, 55 percent of which were American, four percent from Canada, 12 percent British, seven percent Australian, and 22 percent from various other countries.

The overwhelming majority of respondents, 59 percent to be exact, answered that the media’s role in anorexia is, well, overrated. This is a conclusion that Kevin Fleming, a doctor who works with eating disorder clients, agrees with to an extent. “I think media is hugely related to a lot of this, but if your brain is balanced you stand a better chance to cope with triggers,” Fleming told Medical Daily.

Fleming is the founder of the innovative neuroscience-based behavior change consulting firm Grey Matters International. It’s here that the doctor sees people suffering from various types of eating disorders on a daily basis. In Fleming’s opinion, most of his clients' eating disorders stem from sources inside, not outside, of the home.

“There are dynamics that have nothing to do with the media. The problem, in many of the cases at least, has to do with either/both emotional dysregulation set points, and/or the family — namely, schizophrenogenic families,” he said. Still, while many of the problems may begin at home, the presence of media isn’t likely to make the situation any better. “A psychological dysfunction can lead to a dissociative state, which can be exacerbated by media type influences,” Fleming added.

While it’s difficult to prove a direct cause of an eating disorder, Fleming explained to Medical Daily that the correlation between the media and anorexia is clearly present. “You can crucify the media, but likely a predisposition to some dysfunction was likely there a priori,” said Fleming, describing the media as a catalyst to an already vulnerable brain. Other experts in the field agree with Fleming’s stance on the subject.

“Although thin models are not the cause of eating disorders, they can be a trigger or a factor in maintaining an eating disorder,” Susan Albers, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told The Huffington Post.

Anorexia is a condition which causes people to obsess about their weight and attempt to maintain a weight that is far below normal for their age and height. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors, including but of course not limited to the media.

Placing all the blame on one external factor causes people to disassociate anorexia as being a mental health condition, and so they become more inclined to view it as a personal choice, which like all psychological imbalances is far from the truth. 

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