17 Facts About Body Image and Eating Disorders

There are many assumptions about body image as well as eating disorders, but what are facts and what are just stereotypes? Here are 17 facts about both that we hope will allow our readers to see that this is a pressing issue that has been continually growing, and hopefully, we are able to take some action to mitigate the negative effects.

1. Body Image is NOT Self-esteem

Though they are closely linked, they’re not the same. Some have argued that body image is a part of self-esteem. While body image is the way we perceive our body and believe that others perceive it, self-esteem how you think and feel about yourself in entirety.

2. High Percentage of Low Body Image in Teens

Research has found that 1 in 2 Singaporean teens believes he or she is too fat, 8 in 10 want to change the way they look, and 1 in 5 would consider plastic surgery.

3. Models are Becoming Severely Underweight

Models weighed 8% less than the average woman twenty years ago. Today, however, they weigh 23% less than the average woman.

4. Role of Media in Body Image

Studies show that young girls who watch more television, specifically reality TV, have a higher likelihood of placing more importance on physical attributes. Related to this, the average girl will watch 5,000 hours of television, including 80,000 ads, before she starts kindergarten. Moreover, 80% of women say that the images of women on television and in movies, fashion magazines, and advertising make them feel insecure. Enough with the Kardashians and Jersey Shore, it’s about time these young ones read a book or play outside.

5. Sports and Self-esteem

Young girls involved in athletic activities have shown to be much less worried about their physical appearance. Yet only 9% of major TV networks around the world are dedicated to female sports. Instead of putting your children in front of the TV, consider engaging them in sports from a young age to help them develop a healthy self-esteem.

6. Barbie and Idealised Female Body Size

Not only is Barbie’s body unrealistic, it is also unattainable. Her slender neck is in fact too fragile to support her head. Her wrists cannot sustain heavy lifting and her ankles are too thin to enable her feet to support her body weight. Given these proportions, if Barbie were a real woman, she would have to walk on all fours to support even body weight distribution without her joints snapping. Additionally, her impossibly tiny waist and torso make for inadequate space to contain her vital organs.

7. Young Girls Starving Themselves

Statistics revealed that 9 in 10 women and 8 in 10 young girls stop themselves eating or otherwise put their health at risk when they do not feel good about the way they look.

8. Beauty & Weight Loss = Big Bucks

Two of the most lucrative markets in the world are the diet and makeup industries. The Global Weight Loss and Weight Management Market reported that the diet industry accounted for a value of US$168.95 billion in 2016. This value is projected to increase to US$278.95 billion at the end of 2023. The global cosmetic products market was valued at US$532.43 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach US$805.61 billion by 2023.

9. Body Satisfaction of Women Worldwide

In a study of body confidence commissioned by Dove in 13 countries, South Africa ranked the highest, with more than 64% of women saying that they were satisfied with their bodies. At the bottom of the table was Japan, with only 8% having high body-esteem. Interestingly, the cost of plastic surgery in Japan is not only the highest in Asia but also among the highest in the world, with over 1.26 million procedures performed in 2014.

10. Selfie Filters & Editing Correlation to Body Image

While there is no harm in taking a selfie, people who were more invested in their selfies i.e. those who take multiple photos, spend more time choosing a photo or editing it, were unhappier with their bodies. Next time you take a selfie, be confident enough to go #nofilter #noedits.

11. Body Image Issues Leading to Eating Disorders

Body-dissatisfaction and unhealthy eating habits can lead to eating disorders, in which a person develops unhealthy relationships with food that may include fasting, a constant preoccupation with food and eating, persistent dieting, or binging and purging. This affects many aspects of their lives and functions.

12. Few Seeking Help for Eating Disorders

95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25 and a mere 10% of these will seek professional help.

13. High Mortality Rate for those with Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. For women aged 15 to 24, the mortality rate of anorexia, a type of eating disorder, is 12 times higher than any other cause of death. Suicide is common. Moreover, those who survive usually have to live with serious medical conditions, including kidney dysfunction, changes in brain structure, osteoporosis and extreme muscle weakness, including weakness of the heart muscle. These girls literally destroy their bodies and starve themselves to death.

14. Early Intervention for Eating Disorders is Critical

On a more hopeful note, full recovery is possible. Given the medical complications associated with the disorder, early intervention is critical.

15. Men Can Have Eating Disorders Too

It is a common misconception that eating disorders only affect women; in fact, 10 to 15% of the population with anorexia and bulimia are men, but they are less likely to seek help due to stigma and stereotypes surrounding masculinity and the disorder.

16. Many Resort to Unhealthy Methods to Lose Weight

In order to control their weight, more than 50% of teenage girls and almost 33% of teenage boys have used unhealthy methods such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking, inducing vomit, or consuming laxatives. Parents should be aware of their adolescents eating habits, especially if they notice an unexpected change in their weight or if they develop strange rituals around food.

17. Few Women Think That They’re Beautiful

And perhaps the most startling fact of… Only 4% of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful. So to all you women out there, stand proud in front of your mirror, look at every inch of you, every single freckle, mole, dimple, every bit of flabby and cellulite-covered skin, from your big feet to your thunder thighs to the wrinkles of your face, and tell yourself, “I might not love the way I look, but I accept my body. I might not be perfect, but I’m beautiful.”



If you liked this article, please support our book project “Building Body Confidence” by pledging an amount here. Every dollar goes into the publishing and distribution of the book and you will get a copy of it once it does get published!

Photo Credits: Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash


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