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Study: Fifty Shades Of…Unhealthy Behavior?

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(credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

(credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Fifty Shades trilogy sent fans around the world into a tizzy, but could it also be resulting in risky behavior among women who have read the books?

A new study says it’s a possibility.

The research, which is published in the Journal of Women’s Health, claims young adult women who read Fifty Shades of Grey were more likely to engage in risky, unhealthy behaviors.

Nearly 700 women between the ages of 18 and 24 and enrolled in “a large Midwestern university” completed a cross-sectional survey online about their behavior and whether or not they read the Fifty Shades series. The women were questioned about their drinking patterns, number and frequency of sexual partners, whether or not they’d experienced emotional or physical abuse and their dieting habits.

Of those females who completed the survey, 219 had read at least the first Fifty Shades book and 436 had not read any of the books. And of those who had read at least one of the books, 122 said they’d finished all three.

According to the results of the questionnaire, women who had finished at least the first Fifty Shades novel (but not all three) were more likely to have had a partner who had shouted, cursed or swore at them and were more likely to report fasting or using diet aids.

Additionally, those who’d read all three books were more likely to have had five or more sexual partners in their lifetime and were also more likely to report binge drinking in the last month and using diet aids.

While the researchers say they can’t prove that reading the books caused the unhealthy behaviors (for example, some women who already experienced things like disordered eating or an abusive relationship before reading Fifty Shades might have had that trauma reaffirmed or aggravated by the books), they do worry that “the book influenced the onset of these behaviors by creating an underlying context for the behaviors.”

Fifty Shades—a blockbuster fiction series—depicts pervasive violence against women, perpetuating a broader social narrative that normalizes these types of risks and behaviors in women’s lives,” the study’s authors write.

What do you think about the study? Weigh in on the CBSPhilly Facebook page.

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