Media and peer influence on fad diets tried by adolescent females
Berry, Lisa La Chapelle
University of Wisconsin--Stout
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The purpose of the present study was to examine the impact of the influence of the media and peers to the number of fad diets attempted by female adolescents ages 13-17 as measured by The Ruth Gilfry Female Adolescents Informative Survey. More recent trends show that teens are influenced by modern pop culture depicting thin to equal happiness (Kilbourne, 1987). The problem seems to be that negative messages toward overweight people began early in the twentieth century and early in one’s life. Women have been depersonalized through the media and peers and their body parts exploited as decorative objects. Consequently, females have become obsessed with the fear of fat and with dieting (Schur, 1984). A teenage girl’s self-evaluation is powerfully influenced by concerns about their weight (Bramwell, 1996). Approximately 7 million women in the United States are affected by an eating disorder (Zimbardo & Gerrig, 1996). The subjects involved in this study are thirty-seven adolescent females, ages 13-17 attending self-esteem groups at a counseling center in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The subjects surveyed will have had varying duration of counseling from three months to years. The female adolescents surveyed are voluntary and will have the option to not participate in the study. The results of this study indicated that the media and peers do seem to influence the number of fad diets attempted by adolescent females. The study is supported by the literature. Studies show that teens get their values today more from media and friends than from family or community (Berg, 1997). The study seemed to show that the influence of magazines is the greatest, followed by peers, and television approaching significance. The cultural focus on looking a certain way is evident through television, magazines, and peer pressure (Berg, 1997). Although, there are not a substantial amount of recent studies done nor sufficient studies with adolescent females as the subject (Fallon, et al., 1994). A recommendation would be to do more research using teenage girls as subjects. More recent studies with their own population may educate and help teen girls dispute the media and peers and make decisions as to what their healthy weight is and what traits are important in a friend.