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Eating Disorder Symptoms in Australian Actors and Performing Artists

Marianna Szabó, Mitchell L. Cunningham, Mark Seton, Ian Maxwell
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 34 Number 4: Page 171 (December 2019)

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Abstract: AIMS: Anecdotal evidence suggests that actors and other performing artists are under great pressure to conform to idealized appearances and body types. The pursuit of such appearances may trigger eating disorder symptoms, such as unhealthy attitudes towards body weight and shape. Thus far, there has been no dedicated empirical study of the prevalence of such problems in Australian actors and performing artists specifically. Therefore, this study sought to examine eating disorder symptomatology in Australian actors and performing artists. METHODS: An online survey was distributed to the Equity Foundation membership representing Australian actors and performing artists, of whom 573 individuals completed the survey. This survey gauged demographic information and eating disorder symptoms using the psychometrically validated Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale (EDDS). RESULTS: A large proportion of actors reported unhealthy attitudes such as 'feeling fat' even though they are of normal weight or underweight; reported an extreme fear of gaining weight; and evaluated their self-worth based on their body weight and shape, particularly women. Results also showed that 2.5% of women in the study met the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa and 13% met diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa based on their scores on the EDDS. DISCUSSION: Performers may be a particularly at-risk population for the development and/or maintenance for a range of eating disorders.

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