Effects of Media Use on College Students’ Eating Behaviors and Body Image

Shelby Sanya Weber


Eating disorders are on the rise, especially among adolescents. As exposure to mass media is also increasing among all ages, much research has explored the links among media exposure, individual eating behaviors, and the ways in people view their own bodies. This thesis describes and analyzes correlations between mass media exposure and the development of eating disorder symptomology. Eating disorders are defined, and mass media’s influences on body image and self-esteem are discussed as the foundation for several hypotheses and a research question regarding the effects of media exposure on eating behaviors and body image. A quasi-experiment and a self-questionnaire were administered to 100 college students in exchange for extra credit through particular courses. Although most hypotheses were not supported or only partially supported at the level of statistical significance, an interesting positive correlation emerged between self- reported exposure to fashion magazines and self-reported binge-eating, which is known to be an indirect indicator of food deprivation in one’s past.