If this year’s summer is nothing like its spring, then it is well on it’s way — and, as these things go, more and more people are putting down the medialunas in preparation. However, according to a survey conducted in 19 schools in the capital and Buenos Aires Province, a significant number of young Argentines are dangerously stressing over their weight.
The recent Association to Fight Bulimia and Anorexia (Aluba) study shed light on how peer pressure is generating eating disorders among thousands of young secondary and even primary school students.
According to Aluba’s survey results, 33.44 percent of female adolescents polled believe they were fat, even though their peers claimed they had normal weights. “It’s a reality that we see in daily consultations,” said nutritionist Norberto Russo. “We see cases of 11 year-old-girls with very severe food disorders, something that did not happen some years ago.”
According to the study, 55.64 percent of the young women and 33.92 percent of the young men polled, who all had normal eating patterns, were terrified of being fat and the mere possibility of gaining weight frightened 51.43 percent of girls and 35.44 percent of boys.
Additionally, more than half of the girls who participated in the study and 40.75 percent of boys said they were “constantly thinking about food, when the next meal is and how to eat it.”
“Mood and behavior at this stage in life can be deeply affected by the perception of body image and the opinion of others,” analyzed Marcelo Bregua, a licensed clinical psychologist and general coordinator of Aluba.
The problem has reached new heights with an unbelievable blogging trend that has picked up steam among Argentine teenagers called “pro-mia” and “pro-ana” (as in pro-bulimia, and pro-anorexia). These blogs are about young people glorifying anorexia and bulimia as a way of life.
These bloggers share information on diet tips and how to fool parents and doctors. There are even organized competitions to see who can lose the most kilos in a week.
Sites like these are banned in France, where Parliament passed legislation to fine those who promote extreme thinness on websites, and in Mexico, where some of these web pages automatically redirect you to health care help.
Pro-anorexia and bulimia sites currently do not have any laws against them in Argentina. “We are trying to find a legal way to prohibit these sites, but still do not have an updated Internet law,” Bregua explained. “Many teens see these blogs a framework of belonging.”