Young kids worried about their bodies: Study

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A new study is highlighting a disturbing trend about how children view their own bodies.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies found that children as young as eight are unhappy with how they look - and about half of the those surveyed said they took steps to control their weight.

"We found though, even more importantly, that was actually translating into weight management strategies for more than half of the children," says deputy director of the Institute Daryl Higgins.

The study found that weight management was just as much an issue for boys as it was girls.

More than half of the nine and ten year old boys and girls interviewed said they took steps to either lose or gain weight.

"Restricting calories if you are overweight is a good thing, restricting calories if you are under weight or normal weight is not such a good thing and can actually turn into problematic behaviours long term including eating disorders and other mental health consequences," says Mr Higgins.

Holly Wainwright, who blogs about issues facing parents, says the results aren't surprising when you consider how adults see themselves through popular culture.

"Thinness is valued above all things. We still discuss it a lot - it's still the topic of so much of our media we consume and when you think about all the women who are put up there as role models who we admire and aspire to be, they are thin," she says.

Researchers say they want parents to recognise that the struggle with body image starts much earlier than they might think and that the best place to start is to talk about it with their children.

 

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