The London School of Economics conducted the first-ever economic analysis of anorexia, studying almost 3,000 women in Britain and Europe. The research indicated the cultural and social environment leads young women to starve themselves into what is shown to them by the media as an ideal body shape, England's The Guardian reported.
Young women make up 90 percent of anorexia nervosa cases and are influenced by the size and weight of their peer group, the research found.
Governments would be justified to ban very skinny models from runways, magazine photographs and advertisements giving a platform to equate extreme thinness with attractiveness, the LSE research said.
"Government intervention would be justified to curb the spread of a potential epidemic of food disorders," economists Joan Costa-Font and Mireia Jofre-Bonet from City University wrote in a paper to be published in the journal Economia this year.
"The distorted self-perception of women with food disorders and the importance of the peer effects may prompt governments to take action to influence role models and compensate for social pressure on women driving the trade-off between ideal weight and health," the economists wrote.