Body image, eating disorders, and the media

Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 2008 Dec;19(3):521-46, x-xi.


Adolescence is a time of tremendous change in physical appearance. Many adolescents report dissatisfaction with their body shape and size. Forming one's body image is a complex process, influenced by family, peers, and media messages. Increasing evidence shows that the combination of ubiquitous ads for foods and emphasis on female beauty and thinness in both advertising and programming leads to confusion and dissatisfaction for many young people. Sociocultural factors, specifically media exposure, play an important role in the development of disordered body image. Of significant concern, studies have revealed a link between media exposure and the likelihood of having symptoms of disordered eating or a frank eating disorder. Pediatricians and other adults must work to promote media education and make media healthier for young people. More research is needed to identify the most vulnerable children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Body Image*
  • Child
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Mass Media*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors