Peer Pressure and Dieting
"Can you tell me about Peer Pressure and
Dieting?" asked 14 year old Kathy.
Peer pressure occurs when a group of people or just one person can
make an individual feel uncomfortable, leading them to make
decisions that they may not otherwise decide to make if they did not
have influences in their life. This can affect the way a person
thinks, dresses, looks, speaks or eats. The person who gives in and
decides to change their lifestyle usually feels that they must
conform to other attitudes or behaviors to feel part of the norm.
When peer pressure involves the way a person eats, this can
result in drastic consequences. When a person feels an intense urge
to change their eating habits to fit it, they may develop habits
that can turn a healthy body into a poor bill of health. This is
seen when individuals attempt to diet in order to fit into an image
that they have dubbed as ideal. Many people associate peer pressure
with teens, but adults often face the same obstacles when they come
face to face with weight issues brought on upon their peers.
Peer pressure not only comes from family and friends, but can
come in the form of other outside influences. For example, today’s
society pushes for a thinner world. People cannot escape the
“in-their-face” reminders of how attractive a thinner image appears
to others. This is prominent every time you open up a magazine,
revealing the latest models or watching your favorite sitcom and
spotting the “hottest” television star.
Peer Pressure and
Dieting Can Lead To
1) Low Self-Esteem
When a person is constantly hearing about their weight from
family and friends, it may result in low self-esteem. Feelings of
low self-worth, guilt and unattractiveness may develop that may
prompt the individual to diet in order to please the people around
them, as well as themselves.
pressure to diet and make drastic lifestyle changes, a person may
feel depressed because of their failed attempts to lose weight or
that they are not up to the standards of those they are surrounded
Anorexia nervosa deals with the strong fear of being or
becoming fat. People who practice this lifestyle wish to maintain an
emaciated body weight. There are about 50% of anorexia nervosa
patients who engage in self-induced vomiting and/or the abuse of
When a person suffers from bulimia nervosa, they participate
in reoccurring cycles of binge-eating. After binge-eating, they
engage in some form of purging, which includes such methods as
vomiting, abusing laxatives and/or abusing diuretics. This is their
attempt to prevent weight gain.
5) Poor Body
person is feeling peer pressure to diet, whether or not they are of
healthy or unhealthy weight, may develop a poor body image of them.
This can lead to unhealthy practices when they attempt to diet. If
someone keeps hearing over and over again that they need to diet,
then they may feel that something is wrong with their image and that
what others say is the truth.
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