I know anorexia is a complex phenomenon. I've been reading on Wikipedia that:

Sociocultural studies have highlighted the role of cultural factors, such as the promotion of thinness as the ideal female form in Western industrialized nations, particularly through the media. There is a necessary connection between anorexia nervosa and culture; culture may be a cause, a trigger, or merely a kind of social address or envelope which determines in which segments of society or in which cultures anorexia nervosa will appear. The strong thesis of this connection is that culture acts as a cause by providing a blueprint for anorexia nervosa. A moderate thesis is that a specific cultural factors trigger the illness which is determined by many factors including family interactions, individual psychology, or biological predisposition. Culture change can trigger the emergence of anorexia in adolescent girls from immigrant families living in highly industrialized Western Societies.[89] People in professions where there is a particular social pressure to be thin (such as models and dancers) were much more likely to develop anorexia during the course of their career,[90] and further research has suggested that those with anorexia have much higher contact with cultural sources that promote weight-loss.

Source: Sociological section of Wikipedia on anorexia nervosa

It seems that the mass media can contribute in the diffusion of anorexia. But I wonder if statistics suggest that this disease has got a boom of cases of in the last years.

Source: Media effects section of Wikipedia on anorexia nervosa

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It looks like references 89 and 90 in your quote from Wikipedia have more to say on this. Have you tried looking further into them yet? If you do and they seem to answer your question, I'd encourage you to provide an answer here, or to edit your question to ask any more specific problems you don't think those references address sufficiently. +1 on everything so far though! $\endgroup$ Mar 21, 2014 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ @NickStauner: thanks, I will try to ask someone if he can give me those papers. $\endgroup$
    – Revious
    Feb 10, 2016 at 10:37

1 Answer 1


Short answer
According to a study dating 6 years back, the incidence rate of anorexia nervosa was stable over several decades.

According to a review paper published in 2012, the overall incidence rate of eating disorders, including anorexia, was stable over the previous decades. However, there was an increase found in the high risk-group of 15–19 year old girls, but that might have been due to earlier detection of anorexia nervosa cases or an earlier age at onset (Smink et al., 2012).

Given that the tendency nowadays is a moving away from the stereotypical barbie-sized waistlines I reckon above study is a valid source of information, as I do not expect the number of anorectic people to be soaring.

Interestingly, while there are hosts of studies linking mass media and stereotyped ideal bodily proportions, a review study puts these findings in a different spot light. While the authors recognize mass media and eating disorders are linked, they question the size of the impact mass media has on these disorders. They did this by studying the correlation between social media versus negative body image and disordered eating in females (Levine & Murnen, 2009).

- Levine & Murnen, J Soc Clin Psychol (2009); 28: 9-42
- Smink et al., Curr Psychiatry Rep (2012); 14(4): 406–14


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