A survey of Australian kids and teens aged between six and thirteen has shown an increasing number of children are worried about their weight, a factor which plays a major cause in future development of an eating disorder.
The research results, released by polling giant Roy Morgan, show an overall increase of one per cent in the number of kids who agreed with the statement “I worry about my weight”. However, while there has also been a 10 per cent decline in the number of 12-13 year old girls who worry about their weight, there has been a sharp increase in the number of 6-7 year olds – both girls and boys – who are concerned about their weight.
“It’s inevitable that children internalise these commentaries to some extent, and the fact that over 35% of kids aged 6-13 are worried about their weight speaks volumes,” Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan Research said in a recent statement.
“While this isn’t necessarily all bad (for example, if it encourages them to avoid junk food), it is a serious concern if children develop low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction and/or eating disorders as a result. The striking increase in kids aged between 6 and 7 years worrying about their weight is not a trend that anyone wants to see.”
A similar survey commissioned by Mission Australia in late 2015 also found that, for the sixth year in a row, young adults were becoming more concerned with their own body image – increasing from around 20 per cent in 2012 to nearly 27 per cent in 2015.
CEO of eating disorder help service the Butterfly Foundation Christine Morgan believes that more needs to be done to manage the increasing number of body image problems among the youth population.
“We must address negative body image as a serious population and mental health issue. It is an issue that can only be fixed when the mental and physical health, youth and social services portfolios work together from a national leadership position.”
For more information on the signs and symptoms of eating disorders, visit eatingdisorders.org.au