Role of television in adolescent women's body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness

Int J Eat Disord. 1996 Sep;20(2):199-203. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-108X(199609)20:2<199::AID-EAT11>3.0.CO;2-Z.


Objective: Many authors have implicated the media's promotion of an unrealistically thin ideal for women as a major causal factor in the current high levels of body dissatisfaction and increasing incidence of eating disorders. The present study aimed to investigate the relationship between exposure to one medium, television, and body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness.

Method: Questionnaires were administered to 94 adolescent women who reported how much and what television they had watched in the previous week. Body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness were also assessed.

Results: Amount of television watched did not correlate with either body dissatisfaction or drive for thinness, but category of program did. Specifically, amount of time spent watching soaps, movies, and (negatively) sport predicted body dissatisfaction, and the watching of music videos predicted drive for thinness.

Discussion: The results are consistent with sociocultural explanations for body dissatisfaction and for the emergence of eating disorders in young women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / ethnology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • South Australia
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television*
  • Thinness*
  • Time Factors