Reality TV beauty show viewers more likely to tan: study

Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:09am IST

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

REUTERS - College students who watch reality television beauty shows are at least twice as likely as non-viewers to use tanning lamps or tan outdoors for hours at a time, according to a U.S. study.

The findings, which appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, doesn't prove that simply watching shows such as America's Next Top Model and Toddlers & Tiaras drives people to the tanning booths, researchers said.

But it does suggest the shows aren't promoting the healthiest views on tanning, which has been linked to a higher risk of skin cancer - especially among young people.

"TV shows might not realize the message they're (promoting) by having all of these attractive, tanned people," said study co-author Joshua Fogel, a health policy researcher at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York system.

For both skin specialists and primary care doctors, he added, "it's worth asking their younger patients if they do use tanning lamps and outdoor tanning ... especially those that watch reality TV shows."

The findings were based on surveys of 576 college students who were in their early 20s, on average. About 61 percent of them watched reality TV beauty shows.

Watching reality TV was tied to both indoor and outdoor tanning. Among people who watched the beauty shows, 13 percent had used tanning lamps in the last year and 43 percent had tanned outdoors for more than two hours at a time.

In comparison, fewer than four percent of non-watchers used tanning lamps and 29 percent tanned outdoors.

Not surprisingly, women were ten times more likely to use tanning lamps than men.

The researchers didn't ask survey participants exactly what shows they watched, so they couldn't tie specific programs to tanning.

"It's very clear that people who are watching (these shows) view this as something positive to do," Fogel told Reuters Health, adding that it's possible the programs may directly encourage viewers to tan because they imply tanned people are cooler and more attractive.

"The alternative possibility is the people who are tanned in the first place like watching these shows," he added, perhaps because the characters look more like them.

Another study, in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that reality TV viewing was tied to better self esteem among adolescent girls. But the girls who watched the shows also focused more on their appearance.

A representative from TLC-Discovery Communications, which airs Toddlers & Tiaras, said the network had no comment on Fogel's findings.

Dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, who wasn't involved in the study, said the results were consistent with what doctors in the field know about the media's influence.

"The images on TV of celebrities, they really do send powerful messages to the masses," said Tanzi, from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery.

"And if they are going to the tanning salons and giving the impression that to be beautiful you have to be tan, and that's the ideal, that message is a very powerful one that's going to our young people." SOURCE:

(Reporting from New York by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Time's List


Foster Weds

Foster Weds

Jodie Foster marries girlfriend Alexandra Hedison.  Full Article 

New Film

New Film

'The Other Woman' serves up revenge in comic female fantasy.  Full Article 

Appeal Denied

Appeal Denied

Doctor convicted in Michael Jackson death denied latest appeal.  Full Article 

Chart Buster

Chart Buster

'Frozen' soundtrack notches biggest sales week, tops Billboard.  Full Article 

A Minute With

A Minute With

Sam Claflin on horror, heroes and 'Hunger Games'.  Full Article 

Online Streaming

Online Streaming

Amazon grabs rights to stream older HBO shows.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage