The British Journal of Psychiatry
Eating behaviours and attitudes following prolonged exposure to television among ethnic Fijian adolescent girls
ANNE E. BECKER, REBECCA A. BURWELL, DAVID B. HERZOG, PAUL HAMBURG, STEPHEN E. GILMAN

Abstract

Background There are no published studies evaluating the impact of introduction of television on disordered eating in media-naïve populations.

Aims To assess the impact of novel, prolonged exposure to television on disordered eating attitudes and behaviours among ethnic Fijian adolescent girls.

Method A prospective, multi-wave cross-sectional design was used to compare two samples of Fijian schoolgirls before and after prolonged regional television exposure with a modified 26-item eating attitudes test, supplemented with a semi-structured interview to confirm self-reported symptoms. Narrative data from a subset of respondents from the exposed sample were analysed for content relating television exposure to body image concerns.

Results Key indicators of disordered eating were significantly more prevalent following exposure. Narrative data revealed subjects' interest in weight loss as a means of modelling themselves after television characters.

Conclusions This naturalistic experiment suggests a negative impact of television upon disordered eating attitudes and behaviours in a media-naïve population.

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