TEEN HEALTH Published July24, 2015 By Milafel Hope Dacanay

Poor Body Image Can Begin as Early as 8

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(Photo : Evening Standard | Hulton Archive)

When you were 8 years old, what were your concerns? Perhaps you've thought about homework, friends, sports, and cartoons. A new UK research suggests that 8-year-olds these days have a far more serious problem: body image.

In a research conducted by Dr. Nadia Micali of UCL Institute of Child Health, she discovered that children as young as 8 can already feel dissatisfied about their body. This way of thinking is so dangerous since it can increase the risk of eating disorders by the time they are in their teens.

Micali and her team embarked on what is currently considered the biggest UK research on eating disorders affecting teens and children, Guardian reports. More than 5,500 children up to 14 years old were considered in the study.

Upon analyses of the results, more than 4% of the children already had poor body image as expressed by their dissatisfaction of how they looked. Moreover, as they grew older, the number of teens who became moderately dissatisfied--that is, not happy with some parts of their bodies--increased between 16% and 32%.

At 14, almost 40% of the girls in the study already practiced some behaviors related to an eating disorder, including binge eating. At least 12% of the boys would do so as well. The huge percentage among girls correlated to their level of self-esteem. The same study suggests that regardless whether they are overweight or not, poor self-esteem can drive girls to develop an eating disorder unlike boys wherein only those who are overweight and have poor self-esteem are prone to it.

The researchers believe that if the government would want to improve body image among teens, they should begin by the time they are still young, like when they are in primary school. However, it's also equally important to customize the approach, allowing the children to fully understand the lessons government programs want to impart. 

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