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Eating Disorders and Advertising Effects Analysis Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 5th, 2021


The main of this study is to study the relationship between advertising and anorexia nervosa and bulimia among university students. This article mainly deals with the social responsibility that marketers have in preventing such ill-effects on girls and women due to advertisements that they air. The study aimed at measured the self-image and the ideal self-image of the participants and correlated them with the participant’s tendency in associating with eating disorders, the exposure to media, and the desire of the participants to be thin, and putting forth this result to the advertisers as a guide to use this result ina socially responsible manner. The importance of the article lies in its social aspect of marketing.

The analysis of the hypotheses

The authors take six hypotheses which are that there exists no significant difference in the type of media and development of eating disorders, the effect of advertisements having no significant difference of the desire to be thin between two groups, on personal appearance, of the ideal self-image between two groups and the disorder is not high among individuals who have a greater gap in self and ideal image.

The participants of the research were students. The sample was 1073 participants. The questions were direct and asked the students if they were experiencing bulimia or anorexia and how many calories they consumed regularly. Then they were asked questions regarding their exposure to media, specifically television and advertisements (both in television and magazines), their shopping exposure and their purchase of personal items, their belief that advertisements molded their self-image to be thin, and if they were concerned about personal appearance.

The analysis found that the first hypothesis was true, i.e. exposure to advertisements contributed to eating disorders among students. The second hypothesis was rejected as the result showed that 90% of the people with eating disorders said that advertisements infused their desire to be thinner. A chi-square test for homogeneity suggested that the null hypothesis three was a reject as anxiety regarding personal appearance was increased due to advertisements. The researchers reject hypothesis four as the respondents with eating disorders perceive themselves as more intelligent, mature, grateful, compulsive, nervous, persevering, painstaking, easily jealous, neurotic, hurried, secretive, dissatisfied, and successful than those without the disorders. Further, the students with eating disorders hold an ideal self-image that emphasized modesty, maturity, blame others, soft-hearted, adventuresome, not-neurotic, content, patient, and good, thus rejecting the fifth hypothesis. The eating disorder group shows considerably more significant differences between self-image dimensions and ideal self-image dimensions. By the discussion presented earlier, when advertisers stress appeals in their advertisements, rejects the null hypothesis six.


The analysis of the data collected showed that the advertisements that carry positive images of slimness can exert a strong influence on students. The study showed that students who had or both kinds of eating disorders showed that had a very different self-image and ideal self from those who did not suffer from either of the disorders. The study also concluded that the advertisements were not the only means of which caused eating disorders. The limitation of the study is the findings are self-reported which may be biased.


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