Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are among the few psychiatric syndromes with a plausible socio-cultural model of causation. Issues of culture and slimness are usually considered in terms of the experience of the western world, but there is a growing body of research suggesting that concern with slimness is becoming more prevalent in non-western cultures.
In Culture and Weight Consciousness, Mervat Nasser brings together this research and looks at the recent emergence of eating disorders in cultures that were previously free of such problems. She relates the feminist theories that have been put forward to explain the phenomenon of eating disorders in the west to the condition of modern women in many non-western cultures and concludes that their position is not at all that different from that of their western counterparts. This leads her to address the current limitations of the concept of culture and draw out the implications for future research.