Society as a whole has an eating disorder

Eating disorders in young people are the result of society's dysfunctional attitude towards eating, says doctor and author Dagmar Pauli.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Society as a whole has an eating disorder - NewsMavens
Dieting, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Thinness is all around us. From an early age, our heads are filled with images of impossibly slim celebrities. Today, teenagers are growing up with parents who have always been exposed to extreme thinness as a beauty ideal, and social media has only increased this pressure.

Nowadays, diets can rapidly spiral into eating disorders, and women are disproportionately affected. Feminism may have become an increasingly mainstream topic these last years, but it has yet to properly tackle the issue of body image.

Dagmar Pauli, doctor and expert on adolescent eating disorders, gets to the bottom of the matter in her latest book, "Size Zero". In it, she demands that politicians and society intervene to prevent younger generations from becoming obssessed with weight reduction.

In an interview with Der Standard editor Beate Hausbichler, Pauli says:

"Young people are faced with false prevention, like when they are shown the food pyramid in school. And the more overweight people there are, the more discussion and media hype there is around dieting -- and as a side effect of these diets, people become more overweight and develop more eating disorders."

Details from the story:

  • In her book "Size Zero", Dr Dagmar Pauli takes a critical look at the social environments in which disordered eating behavior thrives -- for example, Instagram "Thigh Gap" campaigns or digital alteration of even the slimmest models.
  • "Eating disorders arise in young people when society has an eating disorder," Pauli writes.
  • Pauli specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry. In "Size Zero", she refers to patient stories to teach parents how they can prevent anorexia, but ultimately lays the blame with society's strict rules regarding how girls and women should look.
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