It’s Spring — time for proms, graduations, and thoughts of warmer weather. For many, this time of the year is also synonymous with insecurities about body size, leading many to start a brand-new diet. The billion-dollar diet industry feeds off our insecurities, and sales of the latest and greatest diet products soar. At the same time, the incidence of eating disorders also rises. Although eating disorders involve complex biological, psychological, social and cultural factors, dieting is a strong risk factor for their development.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, “Cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” or muscularity and place value on obtaining the “perfect body”; narrow definitions of beauty that include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes; cultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths; stress related to racial, ethnic, size/weight-related or other forms of discrimination or prejudice” play a role in the development of eating disorders.