Two and a half years later: study shows it is shaping public perception
MONTREAL, July 5, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Two and half years since the
launch of the groundbreaking Quebec Charter for a Healthy and Diverse
Body Image (also known as La Charte quebecoise pour une image
corporelle saine et diversifiée, or "La Chic" for short), a new study
has been released on how the Charter has affected public awareness of
the media's impact on eating disorders. Published in print in the
August issue of the American Journal of Public Health (and now available in advanced
e-publication), this study by Lise Gauvin (Professor in the Department of Social &
Preventive Medicine at Université de Montréal and Researcher at the
Centre de recherché du CHUM) and Howard Steiger (Chief of the Eating
Disorders Program at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute)
shines a light on how this initiative is shaping public perception.
Reversing the rising tide of eating disorders is a public health
priority. Although many public health actions try to help people reduce
the amount of food they eat and make better food choices, some
researchers believe that these actions neglect the unhealthy pursuit of
thinness and its corresponding unhealthy weight-control practices. The
authors also found evidence in the literature indicating that greater
exposure to images that promote excessively thin body ideals can lead
to maladaptive weight-control practices and disordered eating,
especially among teen girls.
To combat the negative media influence on body image, stakeholders from
the government, the media, health care institutions, and the fashion
industry, following an initiative of the Minister of Culture,
Communications and the Status of Women, decided to launch "La Chic".
Its goal is to incite organizations and people to pledge to: 1) promote
a diversity of body images, including different heights, proportions,
and ages; 2) encourage healthy eating and weight-control habits; 3)
discourage excessive weight-control practices or appearance
modification; 4) refuse to subscribe to esthetic ideals based on
extreme thinness; 5) remain vigilant and diligent so as to minimize the
risks of anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
Unique in its approach, La Chic has achieved the voluntary engagement of
many important Quebec industries that can favourably influence
body-image ideals circulating in the public space. It has achieved
sizeable international recognition among groups concerned with eating
disorders and the health risks associated with excessive dieting or
Lise Gauvin and Howard Steiger explored the potential of La Chic in
overcoming the unhealthy pursuit of thinness by collecting data about
its population reach, acceptability, and perceived potential among
Quebec adults: "Our study showed that about 1/3 of respondents
recognized the Charter. About 2/3 expressed willingness to personally
adhere to the Charter and perceived it as having potential to make
people aware of the negative consequences of disordered eating"
explained Lise Gauvin.
This study is the first so far to make a systematic empirical analysis
of the plausible outcomes of such initiatives. "Our paper shows that a
charter aimed at encouraging healthy and diverse body images in the
media, created through consensus building and disseminated through
accessible media events can reach a key segment of the adult
population," Howard Steiger revealed.
Despite the extent to which thinness is entrenched as an ideal in our
culture, a significant segment of the population is remarkably open to
the idea of a social effort to reduce the pressure to be thin.
About the Quebec Charter for a Healthy and Diverse Body Image
The Quebec Charter for a Healthy and Diverse Body Image (La Chic) was
instigated by Christine St-Pierre, Minister of Culture, Communications
and the Status of Women, and aims to reduce media pressure that leads
to unhealthy weight-control practices and the excessive pursuit of
thinness in the population. Through various public events and a website
that has gained over 22,500 signatories, the Charter has become known
to a substantial number of Quebecers, and has had an impact
internationally, among groups concerned with body-image and weight
management as a public health issue.
About the Douglas—www.douglas.qc.ca
The Douglas is a world-class institute, affiliated with McGill
University and the World Health Organization, which treats people
suffering from mental illness, and offers them hope and cures. Its
teams of specialists and researchers continually advance scientific
knowledge, integrate it into patient care, and share it with the
community to increase awareness and eliminates stigma around mental
SOURCE DOUGLAS MENTAL HEALTH UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE
For further information:
and interview requests
Kevin Bilodeau, Media Relations
Communications and Public Affairs, Douglas Institute
Phone: 514-761-6131, ext. 3674.