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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Plus size models may not be better role models

Added on 26/04/11
Author: Sarah Warman – Reporter
plus size model
Plus size models may promote obesity

Dr Davide Dragone and Dr Luca Savorelli, researchers from the University of Bologna, Italy, have come up with a new research stating that larger models will not promote healthy eating habits and escalate the global problem of obesity.

Their research paper is titled 'Thinness and Obesity: A Model of Food Consumption, Health Concerns, and Social Pressure' and was presented at the Royal Economic Society's annual conference in London. It was the first study to argue that using plus size fashion models will change people's perception of ideal weight or spur people to maintain healthy weight.

They wrote in the paper: 'If being overweight is the average condition and the ideal body weight is thin, increasing the ideal body weight may increase welfare by reducing social pressure. By contrast, health is on average reduced, since people depart even further from their healthy weight. Given that in the US and in Europe people are on average overweight, we conclude that these policies, even when are welfare improving, may foster the obesity epidemic.'

Not using skinny models can help young girls with eating disorders but would be unwise if you consider the nation as a whole. Thinner models motivate ordinary women to recognise their own weight problems and lose weight.

This study might conflict with the recent efforts to ban sub size zero models from the ramp. More and more designers are not using skinny models, including Victoria Beckham, after a reported 80% rise in the number of young girls suffering from anorexia admitted to hospital in England in the last ten years.

An agreement between Italy, Spain and Germany and the fashion industry was made in 2006 which made a rule to increase the minimum size for models. Even high-street fashion labels have upped the production of larger sizes.

Dr Dragone and Dr Savorelli beg to differ: 'To promote chubby fashion models when obesity is one of the major problems of industrialised countries seems to be a paradox. Everyone has to trade off in life a number of things like the pleasure of eating and going to the gym or something as a cost. So if you just fix the average healthy weight then maybe you will throw up some incentives to be thin.'

Another recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research 'Seeing is Eating' might agree with the researchers from Italy as they too claim what we see impacts our diet.

Authors Margaret Campbell and Gina Mohr explain: 'Seeing someone overweight leads to a temporary decrease in a person's own felt commitment to his or her health goal.'

In one of their studies, participants shown images of overweight people ate twice as many cookies than they would normally and didn't worry about their weight goals.

They further added: 'Thinking about personal health goals and reminding oneself of the undesirable effects of eating indulgent food at the time of possible consumption can help people avoid eating too much.'

Dr Dragone and Dr Savorelli, you must have looked at some leading plus size models like Crystal Renn, Kasia Pilewicz and Robyn Lawley before wasting your time on this study. These women are not only plus size women but also extra-ordinary role models, who maintain their health and a flourishing modelling career without promoting unhealthy diets and eating habits.

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