Here's new and somewhat shocking evidence of how big an issue weight remains for some women. A survey at 20 colleges in Britain revealed that women students would be willing to reduce their lifespan by a year in order to achieve and maintain their ideal body weight. Even worse: 10 percent of these women said that they would give up two to five years of life in order to be thin, and three percent were willing to give up 10 years or more. Most of the women were young - under 25 - but some were as old as 65. Of the 320 women who participated in the survey, 78 percent were within or under a healthy weight range but four out of five still said they wanted to weigh less. Five percent reported having had some type of cosmetic surgery and 39 percent said they would have a cosmetic procedure if they could afford it. The survey also showed that 25 percent of the women would give up more than $8,000 of their annual salary, a promotion at work, spending time with their families and even their health to meet their ideal of slimness. The survey was sponsored by England's Succeed Foundation and led by Professor Philippa Diedrichs of the University of the West of England. The foundation's mission is to raise awareness of eating disorders and support people affected by eating disorders.
My take? Unfortunately, this survey suggests than an unhealthy preoccupation with weight is still prevalent. This new information indicates that even after adolescence (when girls are most at risk of eating disorders) women remain focused on what may be unrealistic weight goals. These aspirations are influenced by socio-cultural factors including the powerful influences of the entertainment and fashion industries, which have fostered the perception that beauty and sexual attractiveness equate with being ultra-thin. The danger is that some of these preoccupations with weight and body image will escalate into full-fledged eating disorders. I hope that with maturity, the young women surveyed will put their weight and body image into perspective and strive instead for good health.