Women with supportive families have more positive body image and are not pressurised by 'thin and beautiful' ideal
12:30 GMT, 11 May 2012
Past research found between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of U.S. students experience negative body image
With the numbers of eating disorders on the rise, many believe women are feeling more pressure than ever to be thin.
But a new study claims that supportive families can help combat social pressures which cause people to focus unduly on appearance and unrealistic ideals.
Findings showed that levels of emotional support affected the way participants viewed their bodies.
Those with a strong network of family and friends demonstrated a more
positive outlook and were better equipped to deal with stressful situations.
Lead researcher Shannon Snapp of the University of Arizona said: 'It is particularly important for women to develop a sense of
self-worth that is not solely based on appearance, and to build
resilience to pressures they may receive from family, friends and the
Researchers gave 301 first-year university
students questionnaires, focusing on young women who are likely to be
The outcomes suggested that family
support and low levels of pressure to be thin are linked to the
rejection of the 'thin and beautiful' ideal, positive views of physical
appearance, and effective stress-busting strategies.
To help young people at risk of
eating disorders and negative body image, the researchers suggest that
prevention programs should include ways to make them become comfortable with
the multiple, and often contradictory, expectations placed on them.
In addition, they recommend exercise and a healthy diet as methods to overcome poor self-image.
Past research has shown between 25 percent and 40 per cent of U.S. students experience negative body image and eating problems.
NHS reports that around 1 in 250 women and 1 in 2,000 men will
experience anorexia nervosa at some point, while bulimia is around five
times more common.
The latest findings were published in the journal Sex Roles.