Over the recent years, there have been several concerns about the increasing rates of obesity, anorexia, and bulimia among the United States’ teenagers and what can be done to encourage teens to keep and maintain a healthy weight. Reports have indicated that cultural influences contribute significantly or are major contributing factors to eating related disorders in the U.S. By focusing on two eating disorders as per chapter six of this reading, anorexia affects about 0.5 and 0.1% of women and men respectively while bulimia affects 1-3 and 0.1% of women and men respectively.
Levine & Munsch (2017) define anorexia as an obsessive fear of gaining weight thus limiting the food the U.S. teenagers consume while bulimia is the behavior of binge eating followed by a tendency to lose weight like forced vomiting or over-exercising. With these said, it is important to find out the cultural influences that contribute to eating related disorders among the United States’ teenagers to establish mechanisms which can be done to encourage U.S teenagers to maintain a healthy weight.
Cultural Practices that facilitate ED among the U.S. Teenagers
The media exposure of models of body images is one of the cultural factors that contribute to eating disorders among the female teenagers. Based on the media portrayals, the slim young teens are considered to be sexy and attractive and as a result, young ladies have copied this mentality and they are foregoing meals just to have slim and attractive bodies. As a result, portrayal of the media images has become one of the leading factors for the development of anorexia and bulimia nervosas.
Additionally, the development of eating behaviors have contributed to the many eating disorders among the U.S. youths. Mostly, women get pushed by the society to perform their duties while maintaining their femininity, nurturance, and attractiveness. As a result, they fear eating a balanced diet because they want to conform to the societal expectations (Levine & Munsch, 2017).
Weight loss ads on magazines and web pages containing obesity crisis stories all over social media is also another culture-like influence that has led to eating disorders. There is a new trend with restaurants where it is common to find yourself in a gluten-free hotel.
Religion is another contributing factors of a cultural influence (Levine & Munsch, 2017). The tradition of fasting among denominations where spiritual purity is considered as the ideal has also led to eating disorders where one takes hours or days without eating and later doing a binge eating.
What Can Be Done to Encourage Teens to Maintain Healthy Weight
The media exposure and stereotyping or rather body shaping should to some extent be termed as a form of bullying. This will lessen the tradition of thin being seen as the perfect definition of beauty. Parents and guardians should have discussions about eating disorders and shed positive light to their children such that they may stop considering food as “bad” or “good; instead they should encourage a balanced diet and one in a while allowing the teens to have candies or fast foods (Levine & Munsch, 2017).The teenagers are also encouraged to exercise regularly by dedicating at least 60 minutes for physical activities in a day instead of over dieting.
- Levine, L. E., & Munsch, J. (2017). Child Development: An Active Learning Approach: An Active Learning Approach. Sage Publications.