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Published October 07, 2012, 10:50 PM

NDSU study looks at what causes eating disorders

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- An NDSU study finds people with and without eating disorders have very different perceptions of what causes them. Many say the media is to blame, but those with the disorders say that's not case.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- An NDSU study finds people with and without eating disorders have very different perceptions of what causes them. Many say the media is to blame, but those with the disorders say that's not case.

In our society, the media takes a lot of blame for causing eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia.

Gavin Myers: "It has a lot to do with like the media and especially in hollywood and what they do out there."

Jacob Kubik: "Videos that are on TV, commercials, it has a lot of influence, especially for women."

And according to a recent study at NDSU, many would agree.

But those who actually have the disorders tell a different story.

Developmental psychologist Beth Blodgett Salafia surveyed people online and noticed big differences for those with eating disorders and those without.

Salafia: "People without eating disorders were saying the media was causing eating disorders. And people who had eating disorders were saying other things."

About half of those without eating disorders cited media as the cause. Compared with only nine percent of those that do.

People with eating disorders listed factors like trauma, abuse, depression and being teased for their weight.

This video of a television anchor firing back at a viewer that called her fat quickly went viral.

Her anti-bullying message resonated with many people.

"I am more than a number on a scale."

Salafia says while the media does play a role, many people overestimate its impact.

Salafia: "It suggests to me that we need to really work on education and maybe get people talking about what's actually going on."

The surveys were gathered in 2010 and 2011.

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