Eating themselves to death "Live”: the effect of moderate/extreme Anorexia-related messages on young women

  • H. Eliash
  • D. Weimann-Saks


The aim of this study was to examine which kind of Anorexia-related messages (moderate/extreme) are more common on television and how those messages affected young women. An empirical study was performed in two parts: 1. 21 Anorexia-related stories that were broadcast on TV news of commercial TV channels were categorized with a coding page. 2. A random sample was performed (by distributing questionnaires around different online social networks) on 291 women, aged 13-35. The study population was randomly divided into two groups. Every participant requested to complete one online questionnaire that differed in the video message attached to them: extreme/moderate Anorexia-related message. Each questionnaire comprised two parts: 1. “EAT 26” questionnaire includes statements that diagnose Eating Disorder Patterns (EDP). 2. A questionnaire that examines the participants' attitudes, reactions and feelings about the video message attached. Analysis of the stories from TV news broadcast revealed that 71.4% of them featured a young Anorexic woman suffered from extreme underweight. 24.9% of all participants were diagnosed with EDP. For them, both messages were no found significant as far as changing their attitudes (t(73)=0.45,P>0.05) and counter arguing (t(74)=-1.09,P>0.005). On the other hand, when women with no EDP viewed the extreme message, it was found that the counter arguing index was significantly higher (t(203)=2.54,P<0.05) in this message (M=1.56,SD=0.06) than in moderate message (M=1.34,SD=0.06). In conclusion, it should be asked, before presenting a message involving Anorexia, whether the publicity, even when aiming to eradicate the disorder, is worth the risk involved.
Poster presentations