While we may associate body image issues with teenagers, a new study has proven why we need to start discussing this topic with our younger children.
According to new research published this week, children can start to worry about their looks from as young as eight years of age, which puts them at risk of developing eating disorders later on in life.
The study was carried out by a team from the UK and the US, who examined the data of 6,000 children from the age of eight to 14.
The researchers found that by the age of 14, 32% of girls and 16% of boys were “moderately dissatisfied” with some part of their body.
Commenting on the findings, lead author Dr Nadia Micali said: “When I started the study, I wouldn’t have thought so many boys and girls might be unhappy about their bodies at such a young age.”
“My impression is that girls and boys are growing up faster every year almost. They are more mature and faced with issues they probably shouldn’t be faced with so early,” she added.
She also warned that classes teaching schoolchildren about the dangers of being overweight could be inadvertently setting a bad example for young children.
“Children in primary schools are given healthy eating classes without even thinking what they might mean. Many of those classes have not been tested as scientists might test them,” she said.