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.

2) Depression

Peer 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 by.

3) Anorexia

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 laxatives.

4) Bulimia

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 Image

If a 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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