Body dissatisfaction causing long lasting consequences for young people

Body dissatisfaction can start as young as six and lead to depression, anxiety and eating issues | Youth Select Committee

body image

The Youth Select Committee, a British Youth Council initiative, is supported by the House of Commons and has 11 members aged from 13 to 18. This week, the committee is launching its report, A Body Confident Future which looks at the issue of body image, an issue highlighted as an area of concern in a recent poll of thousands of young people.

The Committee’s key recommendations include:

  • Government sponsorship of an annual ‘National Body Confidence Week’ which would be supported by all relevant departments.
  • Introduction of minimum standards for social media companies in relation to content moderation, to be enforced in the forthcoming digital charter.
  • Measures to improve the diversity of advertising campaigns.
  • Adequate funding for schools so that pupils are supported in their wider wellbeing, including on issues related to body dissatisfaction.
  • Greater focus on body image in online resources aimed at young people, teachers and parents.

Full detail at British Youth Council

See also: BBC News: Young people out of love with their own bodies, says report


Social media pressure is linked to cosmetic procedure boom

Young people are turning to cosmetic procedures such as botox and dermal fillers as a result of social media pressure, according to a report | BBC News

Image source: Nuffield Bioethics

A study by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics says government must protect people from an unregulated industry. The report also condemns makeover apps and online plastic surgery games aimed at children as young as nine. The authors fear such apps are contributing to growing anxieties around body image. Much of the cosmetic procedures industry is unregulated so reliable data on its size is hard to come by. In 2015 one market research company estimated the UK market could be worth as much as £3.6bn. But there is little doubt it has grown significantly over the past decade.

The report identifies several factors that are encouraging young people in particular to focus on body image. These include increasing levels of anxiety around appearance, the rise of social media where photos can receive positive or negative ratings and the popularity of celebrity culture, complete with airbrushed images and apparently perfect lifestyles.

Friends’ pictures on social media have biggest impact on body image

Young women are more likely to compare themselves with their peers than with celebrities | The Guardian


Seeing friends’ carefully curated selfies on Facebook is more likely to induce feelings of guilt or shame among young women, and lead to unnecessary dieting, than images of models or celebrities they see in magazines.

Academics found that young women are more likely to compare their appearance with that of their peers’ images on social media than they were with celebrities on TV, adverts or other forms of traditional media. When they then make an unfavourable comparison with the other woman they are looking at, the impact is more pronounced when the image is on social media.

Women are also more likely to diet and do exercise when negative comparisons take place on sites such as Facebook or Instagram, the research found. The vast majority of study participants were not overweight and did not need to diet.

Read the full news story here

Read the original research abstract here

The Transition From Thinness-Oriented to Muscularity-Oriented Disordered Eating in Adolescent Males

Murray, S.B. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online: 16 December 2016


Purpose: Robust empirical evidence has illustrated a rising prevalence of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating among males, noting that both may be oriented more toward muscularity—as opposed to thinness-oriented concerns. While an elevated prevalence of premorbid anorexia nervosa (AN) has been noted among those with muscle dysmorphia, little evidence has examined the process of this transition from thinness-oriented to muscularity-oriented disordered eating.


Conclusions: Transdiagnostic crossover between thinness-oriented and muscularity-oriented disordered eating represents an important clinical concern, which may be challenging to measure and assess. Implications for treatment are discussed, and the early detection of muscularity-oriented disordered eating.

Read the full abstract here

Social media shots affect body image because we only show our best side

Fardouly, J. et al. The Conversation. Published online: 16 December 2016


Many modern celebrities are known for being excessive sharers on social media. For instance, the Kardashians are notorious for posting daily glamorous and often lingerie clad images on Instagram that attract several million likes.

But it’s not just images of attractive celebrities that flood social media. Friends, acquaintances and strangers post images of themselves too, often editing them to disguise face blemishes, make cheeks rosier or to make their nose look smaller.

When people look at these attractive images on social media, research shows they often compare their own appearance to those images and think they’re less attractive than the images they see.

Read the full blog post here



Large, Z. YoungMinds. Published online: 7 August 2016

Image source: ADASSOC

New research suggests negative body image can be a problem for young men just as much as for young women.

Young men are increasingly acknowledging body image issues as a struggle for both genders, with many secondary school boys viewing eating disorders (56%), dieting (55%) and extreme exercising (48%) as gender-neutral issues, according to new research by the advertising think tank Credos.

In the survey of 1,005 boys, 53% of secondary-school pupils said advertising is one of the influences putting pressure on them to look good – just behind friends (68%) and social media (57%).

Healthy or Extreme?

Almost half of the secondary boys surveyed said they would consider exercising with the specific intention of building muscle and bulking up (48%) a fifth having already done this previously (21%), suggesting a concerning majority of 69% aspire to a muscular physique.

Some young men thought they might try more extreme measures to change the way they look. In particular, the 35% of secondary-school pupils who have suffered from bullying were more likely to consider using steroids (15% versus 6% of those who hadn’t been bullied), skipping meals (15% vs 7%) and undergoing cosmetic surgery (18% vs 8%).

Read the blog post here

Read the original research report here

How to teach … body image

Niemtus, Z. The Guardian. Published online: 20 June 2016

Image source: Señor Codo // CC BY-SA 2.0

What do Sadiq Khan and Barbie have in common? They’re both waging war on unrealistic body image pressures. The London mayor recently announced that he will ban adverts on London transport that “demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies”. The move comes a year after the infamous “beach-body ready” campaign, which, in trying to sell protein powder, sparked a nationwide discussion about the stress and anxiety advertising can cause.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, one of the most famous bodies in the world has undergone a transformation, as Barbie’s 36in bust and 18in waist (which, according to scientists, would leave her with too little body fat to menstruate) has evolved into a variety of body shapes and skin colours. Both are steps in the right direction, but there’s no denying that your students will still have to navigate a world full of unhealthy images and pressure. So how can you help them manage it?

Read the full article here