New research finds body image issues are neurological - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/13/10

New research finds women's body image issues are neurological

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By Karin McCay| email

Edited by Kristin Beerman | email 

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Researchers at BYU are trying to figure out what happens in the brain when women see images of different body types. 

They found a group of women with eating disorders and had each of them look at different body images, while researchers looked at their brain activity on an MRI.  Then, they brought in other folks, men and women with no body image problem and studied their brain activity on an MRI. 

The researchers found the women without eating disorders still showed activity in the brain that reflected anxiety over body images, while the men showed no anxiety.  This indicated women have some conscious evaluation of body image deep down that is neurological.

"There is so much bombardment of this 'thin ideal' and what your weight should be that it's now showing up in the brains of women, even with women who don't feel like this is a concern for them," said Diane Spangler, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Psychology at BYU.

The research published in AI Psychology Journal shows how close women in general are to those with eating disorders, suggesting more than ever that parents need to help kids feel good about themselves, instead of trying to be thin like some women in movies and magazines.

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