Almost a third of British teenagers feel ashamed of their body، with imagery of “idealised” bodies on social media driving their insecurity، new research has found، as the Guardian said.
The same number of young people have changed their eating habits in an effort to alter how they look، a survey of teenagers undertaken for the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) shows.
Experts said the results were alarming، particularly because body image anxiety can trigger self-harm and suicidal thoughts in teenagers.
The findings prompted calls for advertisements for weight loss and cosmetic surgery to be vetted and for social media firms to do more to prevent young people feeling bad about their bodies.
“Our survey has shown that millions of young people in Britain are worrying about their body image،” said Jane Caro، the foundation’s programme lead for families، children and young people. “Worries about body image can lead to mental health problems and، in some instances، are linked to self-harm and suicidal thoughts and feelings.”
Overall، 31% of 13- to 19-year-olds feel ashamed of their body shape، according to the YouGov survey of 1،118 British teenagers، which was weighted to represent everyone at those ages. Slightly more – 35% – had stopped eating or limited what they ate because they were worried about their body.
In addition، 35% of respondents worried about their body often or every day، 37% felt upset and ashamed about it and 40% said remarks by friends had made them worry about their appearance. Two in five said pictures they had seen on social media had made them worry about their body.
Research has shown that people’s dissatisfaction with their appearance often stems from comparing themselves unfavourably with others. The MHF said: “Exposure to idealised bodies in the media and social media provides significant risk of this and of internalising an ‘ideal’ body image that is unrealistic or unattainable.”