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Letters |

Is Miss America an Undernourished Role Model?

Sharon Rubinstein, MHS; Benjamin Caballero, MD, PhD
JAMA. 2000;283(12):1569. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-283-12-jlt0322.
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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.

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Trend in Body Mass Index (BMI) of Miss America Pageant Winners, 1922 to 1999
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The horizontal line represents the World Health Organization's BMI cutoff point for undernutrition (18.5).5

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