Culture, Media and Eating Disorders examined at Sheena's Place Seventh Annual Awareness Breakfast

    TORONTO, Feb. 8 /CNW/ - A leading American author and medical
anthropologist today examined the relationship between culture, media and
eating disorders in women. In an address at the seventh annual Sheena's Place
Awareness Breakfast, presented by Scotiabank, Dr. Anne Becker spoke about her
study which represented the first known investigation of television's impact
upon eating habits in a traditional society in Fiji.
    "Media exposure, specifically televised and print media from the women's
fashion industry, is related to disordered eating," explained Dr. Anne Becker,
M.D, PhD and associate professor of medical anthropology at Harvard Medical
School. "The impact of television appears especially profound...exposure to
idealized images of beauty in the media stimulates social comparison and
potential body image disturbance or dissatisfaction."
    Dr. Becker was the lead author in research that documented a profound
impact of television on adolescent girls' body image in Fiji, a small-scale
indigenous society that had been unexposed to television prior to 1995. She
currently has NIMH funding to investigate the impact of mass media and
acculturation on disordered eating on both Fijian and mainland Puerto Rican
girls. Dr. Becker has also written a book, Body, Self, and Society: The View
From Fiji, in which the cultural context of body image is explored.
    According to Dr. Becker, "Our children are saturated with mass media
images and ideas, yet we can't fully know its impact on them because of the
chronic and pervasive nature of this exposure. However, the recent
introduction of television to Fiji - a remote, small-scale indigenous society
in the South Pacific, has vividly and tragically illustrated the powerful
impact on girls' self and body image. If exposure to just three years of
television could override centuries of protective cultural traditions in Fiji,
just imagine how it has influenced children in North America."
    The seventh annual Sheena's Place Awareness Breakfast, presented by
Scotiabank, is a focal point for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Sheena's
Place is also hosting its seventh annual Open Forum for the general public on
Saturday, February 9, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. This year's Open Forum
features Dr. Becker, followed by a panel discussion with Advertising executive
Janet Kestin, psychiatrist Dr. Leora Pinhas and lawyer Zahra Dhanani. The
Forum will take place at the Velma Rogers Graham Theatre in the Rogers
Building on Bloor Street East. Pre-registration is required by contacting
Sheena's Place and the event is free.
    "It is important to understand all the elements that contribute to eating
disorders from every corner of our society," said Anne Elliott, Program
Director at Sheena's Place. "This year's Awareness Breakfast and Open Forum
both provide valuable education for people with eating disorders, their
family, friends and the general public as well."
    With the help of many corporate sponsors like Scotiabank, the Awareness
Breakfast will provide program support and development at Sheena's Place,
potentially improving people's attitudes about themselves and their bodies.
Last year's event raised more than $215,000.
    "At Scotiabank, we realize that the vast majority of people who suffer
from eating disorders are women," said Arlene Russel, Scotiabank Senior
Vice-President, Human Resources, Domestic Banking and Wealth Management. "As a
major employer of women, we recognize the importance of supporting the efforts
of community organizations like Sheena's Place that provide help and a safe
place to heal for the families affected by eating disorders."
    Eating disorders occur more frequently among young adult females. Eating
disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. About 15 per
cent of people with anorexia die from problems directly related to their
illness. There are three main types of diagnosed eating disorders: anorexia
nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating.

    Sheena's Place is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that
offers hope and support to individuals and families affected by eating
disorders and related issues. It currently provides over 50 support groups per
week. Founded in July 1994 following the tragic death of 22-year-old Sheena
Carpenter, Sheena's Place is the first centre of its kind in the world. It
offers programs and services free of charge and relies on the generous support
of individuals, foundations, corporations and special events for funding.

    Scotiabank is committed to supporting the communities in which we live
and work, both in Canada and abroad. Recognized as a leader internationally
and among Canadian corporations for its charitable donations and philanthropic
activities, in 2007 the Bank provided more than $43 million in sponsorships
and donations to a variety of projects and initiatives, primarily in the areas
of healthcare, education and social services. Scotiabank is on the World Wide
Web at

For further information:

For further information: Livy Feldgajer, Scotiabank Public Affairs,
(416) 866-6203; Anne Elliott, Sheena's Place, (416) 927-8900

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