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Television exposure predicts body size ideals in rural Nicaragua

Boothroyd, L.G.; Jucker, J.L.; Thornborrow, T.; Jamieson, M.A.; Burt, D.M.; Barton, R.A.; Evans, E.H.; Tovée, M.J.

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J.L. Jucker

T. Thornborrow

M.A. Jamieson

R.A. Barton

M.J. Tovée


Internalization of a thin ideal has been posited as a key risk factor in the development of pathological eating attitudes. Cross-culturally, studies have found a preference for heavier bodies in populations with reduced access to visual media compared to Western populations. As yet, however, there has been little attempt to control for confounding variables in order to isolate the effects of media exposure from other cultural and ecological factors. Here, we examined preferences for female body size in relation to television consumption in Nicaraguan men and women, while controlling for the potential confounding effects of other aspects of Westernization and hunger. We included an urban sample, a sample from a village with established television access, and a sample from a nearby village with very limited television access. The highest BMI preferences were found in the village with least media access, while the lowest BMI preferences were found in the urban sample. Data from the rural sample with established television access were intermediate between the two. Amongst rural women in particular, greater television consumption was a stronger predictor of body weight preferences than acculturation, education, hunger, or income. We also found some evidence for television consumption increasing the likelihood of women seeking to lose weight, possibly via body shape preferences. Overall, these results strongly implicate television access in establishing risk factors for body image disturbances in populations newly gaining access to Western media.


Boothroyd, L., Jucker, J., Thornborrow, T., Jamieson, M., Burt, D., Barton, R., …Tovée, M. (2016). Television exposure predicts body size ideals in rural Nicaragua. British Journal of Psychology, 107(4), 752-767.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 26, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 22, 2016
Publication Date Nov 1, 2016
Deposit Date Feb 10, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2018
Journal British Journal of Psychology
Print ISSN 0007-1269
Electronic ISSN 2044-8295
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 107
Issue 4
Pages 752-767


Accepted Journal Article (667 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is the accepted version of the following article: Boothroyd, L. G., Jucker, J.-L., Thornborrow, T., Jamieson, M. A., Burt, D. M., Barton, R. A., Evans, E. H. and Tovee, M. J. (2016), Television exposure predicts body size ideals in rural Nicaragua. British Journal of Psychology, 107(4): 752-767, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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