Study reveals that half of 3 to 6 year-old girls say they worry about being fat

We are constantly being bombarded by completely unrealistic versions of women (and men) in the media- airbrushed and often malnourished. The size (or lack thereof) of models, actors, and public figures is so often the focal point of conversation. This kind of unhealthy focus is completely detrimental to our health, wellness, and happiness.  Which is why i love campaigns such as Cosmos Say No To Fat Talk. And you will never find it on this blog.

The effect of all of this on children is really extreme, and can encourage life-long unhappiness, poor body image, and in extreme cases eating disorders.  It’s worth remembering that children as exposed to the unrealistic images out there as we are.

young girl children thinks she's fat measuring herself beauty weight happiness

Children begin to recognise themselves in the mirror at about two years old. Within just a few years little girls start disliking what they see.

Half of three to six-year-old girls say they worry about being fat, according to the British Journal of Psychology. By the age of seven, 70 per cent of girls want to be thinner. By nine, half have been on a diet. For girls aged between 11 and 17, it’s their number one wish in life.

And children as young as 10 feel under pressure to have a “perfect” body, putting themselves at risk of going on to develop problems such as anorexia or using laxatives to lose weight, warns a  study in BMC Public Health. Dr Bryn Austin, from Harvard, who led the study, said: “There is a well-established relationship between poor body satisfaction and increased risk of disordered weight control behaviors, including vomiting, fasting and use of laxatives and diet pills for weight control.”

For suggestions on encouraging a healthy body image in children,see here.

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