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March 22/29, 2000

Is Miss America an Undernourished Role Model?

JAMA. 2000;283(12):1569. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-283-12-jlt0322

To the Editor: The obsession with thinness in contemporary society has been cited as a contributing factor for the increase in eating disorders, particularly in young women.1 Recent studies have found that as many as 50% to 75% of adolescent girls are dissatisfied with their weight and their body image.2 Professions in which there are strong pressures to control body weight, such as athletics and dance, exhibit higher rates of eating disorders.3 Beauty pageants are another tradition through which society defines its ideal of beauty, including body weight and shape.