Teens in alarming body image battle

I was in my research and development lab the other day and came across this article written by Susie O’Brien in the Herald Sun Tuesday 30th October, 2018.

This is the alarming fact that the world is living and judging from the “outside in”.

Laura, 13, and friend Maddie, 12, know the pressure girls face over their appearance. 

TEENAGE girls are locked in a battle with their bodies, with about half saying they have lost control of their eating and are afraid of gaining weight.

Boys are not immune from such pressures, with one in five expressing similar sentiments, according to a landmark report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The report, released today, shows a quarter of girls and 12 per cent of boys are actively trying to restrict what they eat, despite the fact that 63 per cent of girls and 47 per cent of boys who diet are of an average weight.

Two in five of the girls who dieted had been trying to consistently lose weight since they were as young as 10.

The study of more than 3000 boys and girls aged 14-15 shows 54 per cent of girls and 19 per cent of boys fear gaining weight and 43 per cent of girls and 20 per cent of boys have lost control of their eating.

Up to a quarter of the girls said their weight was very important to how they felt about themselves as a person, compared to 11 per cent of boys.

Co-author and AIFS executive manager Dr Galina Daraganova said a small proportion of the teenagers met the criteria for anorexia or bulimia.

“Three per cent of the girls and 1 per cent of the boys had made themselves vomit at least once in the last four weeks to control their weight, and about 2 per cent of boys and girls had taken some type of medicine, such as laxatives or appetite suppressants,” she said.

Dr Daraganova said that although girls seemed to be worse off, the number of boys with eating problems should not be ignored.

Maddie, 12, said Instagram added to the pressure to be thin and fit. “Having the perfect photos is important, and many girls rely on editing to look different than they do in real life. SnapChat is also big.”

The study comes as rates of obesity in Australia have escalated in the past few decades, with nearly two-in-three adults and one-in-four children considered to be overweight or obese in 2014-15.

Dr Daraganova said the study confirmed the link between problematic eating behaviours and anxiety and depression.

Australian Institute of Family Studies director Anne Hollonds said negative attitudes towards body image were a risk for eating disorders.

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