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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Prof Robert A. Barton

Jucker, J. L., Thornborrow, T., Beierholm, U., Burt, D. M., Barton, R. A., Evans, E. H., Jamieson, M. & Boothroyd, L. G. (2017). Nutritional status and the influence of TV consumption on female body size ideals in populations recently exposed to the media. Scientific Reports 7(1): 8438.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Television consumption influences perceptions of attractive female body size. However, cross-cultural research examining media influence on body ideals is typically confounded by differences in the availability of reliable and diverse foodstuffs. 112 participants were recruited from 3 Nicaraguan villages that differed in television consumption and nutritional status, such that the contribution of both factors could be revealed. Participants completed a female figure preference task, reported their television consumption, and responded to several measures assessing nutritional status. Communities with higher television consumption and/or higher nutritional status preferred thinner female bodies than communities with lower television consumption and/or lower nutritional status. Bayesian mixed models estimated the plausible range of effects for television consumption, nutritional status, and other relevant variables on individual preferences. The model explained all meaningful differences between our low-nutrition villages, and television consumption, after sex, was the most likely of these predictors to contribute to variation in preferences (probability mass >95% when modelling only variables with zero-order associations with preferences, but only 90% when modelling all possible predictors). In contrast, we found no likely link with nutritional status. We thus found evidence that where media access and nutritional status are confounded, media is the more likely predictor of body ideals.