Anorexia is a socially transmitted disorder and appears to be more prevalent in countries such as France where women are thinner than average, according to new research from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The “economic analysis” of anorexia, using a sample of nearly 3,000 young women across Europe, concluded that peer group pressure is one of the most significant influences on self-image and the development of anorexia and appeared just as the autumn/winter season is winding up with Paris Fashion Week.

The research by LSE economist Dr Joan Costa-Font and Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet of City University, showed that it is becoming increasingly apparent that standards of physical appearance are important and powerful motivators of human behavior, especially regarding health and food.

“We found evidence that social pressure, through peer shape, is a determinant in explaining anorexia nervosa and a distorted self-perception of one’s own body,” Costa-Font said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

The LSE researchers analyzed the influence of peer pressure on 2,871 women between the ages of 15 and 34 who reported their weight, height, eating habits, age, gender, marital status, educational level, professional category, political attitudes and most crucially their own perception of their body image.

“The distorted self-perception of women with food disorders and the importance or the peer effects may prompt governments to take action to influence role models and compensate for social pressure on women driving the trade-off between ideal weight and health,” Costa-Font said.

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