Eating disorders are a collection of mental health conditions characterized by a dysfunctional relationship between…
Study by Spanish Researchers Highlights Body Dissatisfaction
Eating disorders can be caused by various combinations of factors, such as family history or membership in a sports or social group that prioritizes physical appearance over other qualities. Each eating disorder case represents a unique combination of factors that led to the development of the disease.
However, one hallmark of eating disorder development is the frequent citing of body dissatisfaction. Generally, an individual will experience body dissatisfaction as a precursor to the more serious body image dysmorphia, in which it is impossible for a person to form an objective opinion about his or her appearance.
A study by researchers at the University of Granada in Spain has provided new information about body dissatisfaction among the population there. The investigators reported that, somewhat surprisingly, men are more concerned with women being thin than women are. The study also found that when women are uncomfortable with their own weight, they are more likely to feel threatened by or uncomfortable around women of normal, healthy weight and body type.
The findings from the study, conducted by researchers at the university’s Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, also showed that women who aren’t comfortable in their physical appearance often feel embarrassed when viewing themselves in a video or photograph.
The findings were drawn from four studies that involved as many as 671 students participating across the four trials.
Blanca Ortega-Roldán Oliva, who co-authored the study, explains that the most popular choice among the participants for an ideal body were those of models of a normal weight. She explained that though the participants found these images to be pleasing, they also experienced an unpleasant awareness of a lack of control over their own appearance. The normal body type was considered to be unattainable by some.
However, those in the study who were highly unsatisfied with their own bodies found the images of the normal body type to be actually unpleasant to look at. The authors explain that this reaction stems from an inability to objectively evaluate a body type without comparing oneself to the image.