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Five-year-old girls 'weight conscious'

Children

Young children are conscious of what they eat

Girls as young as five are conscious about their weight and think about dieting, says a nutrition expert.

Professor Leann Birch, of Pennsylvania State University, has warned that even young children are not immune to the pressure on females to be slim.

She told a conference on child nutrition in Glasgow that environmental factors played a much more major impact on childhood obesity than genetics.

Girls have more concerns than boys about being thin

Professor Leann Birch, Pennsylvania State University

Speaking at the Update on Childhood Nutrition Conference in Glasgow, Professor Birch said parents should not put pressure on their children to eat certain foods.

Professor Birch found boys and girls have different attitudes to their weight and what they eat.

She said: “Girls have more concerns than boys about being thin and they are also more vulnerable to chronic dieting and binge eating in later life.

“Of all the girls who said they were knowledgeable about dieting, virtually all of them were aware of it as their mothers were on some form of diet.”

Professor Birch said parents should persist in feeding their children healthy foods which they might initially appear to dislike.

No junk food

She said junk food should be avoided.

She said: “What children want to eat is at variance with what their parents want them to eat.

“However, parents should be patient and not just assume that because a child rejects something one day that they will never like it.

“Children can only learn to prefer certain foods if they are made available to them.

“Similarly, parents should not restrict children’s access to foods they believe to be unhealthy as this has the opposite effect.

“We have shown that it actually increases the child’s intake of restricted food.”

Obesity rates among children in the US have doubled in the past decade.

Professor Birch warned that a similar situation could easily occur in the UK.

She said: “Childhood obesity is a huge problem in America with around 25% overweight.

“In Britain the comparative figure is around 15% and it appears to be catching up with the US.”

She said obese children usually had diets that were too high in fat, and too low in fruit and vegetables.

Obesity leads to a range of health problems such as diabetes, kidney damage, poor vision and bad circulation.(news.bbc.co.uk)

Five-year-old girls ‘weight conscious’

Children

Young children are conscious of what they eat

Girls as young as five are conscious about their weight and think about dieting, says a nutrition expert.

Professor Leann Birch, of Pennsylvania State University, has warned that even young children are not immune to the pressure on females to be slim.

She told a conference on child nutrition in Glasgow that environmental factors played a much more major impact on childhood obesity than genetics.

Girls have more concerns than boys about being thin

Professor Leann Birch, Pennsylvania State University

Speaking at the Update on Childhood Nutrition Conference in Glasgow, Professor Birch said parents should not put pressure on their children to eat certain foods.

Professor Birch found boys and girls have different attitudes to their weight and what they eat.

She said: “Girls have more concerns than boys about being thin and they are also more vulnerable to chronic dieting and binge eating in later life.

“Of all the girls who said they were knowledgeable about dieting, virtually all of them were aware of it as their mothers were on some form of diet.”

Professor Birch said parents should persist in feeding their children healthy foods which they might initially appear to dislike.

No junk food

She said junk food should be avoided.

She said: “What children want to eat is at variance with what their parents want them to eat.

“However, parents should be patient and not just assume that because a child rejects something one day that they will never like it.

“Children can only learn to prefer certain foods if they are made available to them.

“Similarly, parents should not restrict children’s access to foods they believe to be unhealthy as this has the opposite effect.

“We have shown that it actually increases the child’s intake of restricted food.”

Obesity rates among children in the US have doubled in the past decade.

Professor Birch warned that a similar situation could easily occur in the UK.

She said: “Childhood obesity is a huge problem in America with around 25% overweight.

“In Britain the comparative figure is around 15% and it appears to be catching up with the US.”

She said obese children usually had diets that were too high in fat, and too low in fruit and vegetables.

Obesity leads to a range of health problems such as diabetes, kidney damage, poor vision and bad circulation.(news.bbc.co.uk)

Poor body image plagues women

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pic20.picturetrail.com

Media images influence women’s perceptions of the perfect body

Women are up to 10 times more likely than men to be unhappy with their body image, research suggests.

This negative perception persists even when women are a healthy weight for their height, according to a new survey.

Researchers found the huge gender gap in body image is even seen among people from professional backgrounds.

Overall, female university employees were three times as likely, and female bank workers 10 times as likely as their male colleagues, to see themselves as overweight.

There is still an association that beautiful women are thin
Dr Carol Emslie, research scientist

Dr Carol Emslie, whose team at the University of Glasgow carried out the research, said “Images are still of very thin women as desirable body shapes. There is still an association that beautiful women are thin.

“For men there is still more of a range of images.

“Alongside all the bombarding of health messages of keeping your weight under control there must be an awareness that if we push this too much it could become a counterproductive message for women who are a desirable weight for their height.”

Scientists at the Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow compiled the report after speaking to 1,500 male and female supervisors and managers in a bank and 2,000 people in clerical, technical and academic posts at an unnamed British university.

Eating disorders link

Concerns about the way women perceive their bodies has risen in recent years as rates of eating disorders such as anorexia have soared, particularly among young women.

Around 90,000 people in the UK are thought to have an eating disorder of some sort, which is usually related to poor body image.

Eating disorders more prevalent among women

Steve Bloomfield from the Eating Disorders Association (EDA) said: “Young women seem to be more affected by the way they look than men.

“It seems people’s perceptions of themselves is that they don’t look right or feel comfortable about their bodies and that’s a terrible shame because it’s that sort of thinking that can lead to developing an eating disorder.”

The EDA is currently seeking funding to carry out a comprehensive survey of the extent of eating disorders.

The last nationwide survey completed in 1992, showed 60,000 people had an eating disorder and that 90% of these were women.

But that is thought to have increased by 30,000.

Another survey carried out recently by newwoman.co.uk found just 1% of young women were “completely happy” with the shape of their body and that one in ten had taken drugs to try to achieve their ideal weight. (news.bbc.co.uk)

Body Image and the Mass Media

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The media plays a significant role in shaping cultural impression about the body, and provides an obvious development of personal attitudes toward our bodies. Media focuses mainly on idealized imagery of the body and with the message of having the desirable body image. The media is targeting teens through magazines. Some of the messages those magazines give especially Seventeen Magazine is that the body is the key for adolescent identity, particularly for girls. The body is a consuming project and important for self definition for adolescent girls.

Adolescents compare their own image with those of models featured in magazines and that may lead to negative feeling about their body. Teen magazines also focus on the importance of attracting men and being concerned with one’s appearance. Studies has shown that people preadolescent and adolescent girls who are frequent readers of fashion magazines are 2 to 3 more likely to diet because of a magazine articles. Cultural background may mediate the ways in which adolescent girls interpret messages in teen magazine. White view teen magazines as a version of reality while African American girls use them as critiques of the ideals represented there.

Studies have also shown that seventeen magazines have total of 266 numbers of body related articles from 1992 till 2003. There are two overreaching rhetorical visions that structured the body related content presented within the magazines. First, the making of body image and second is the unmaking of body image.

The making of body image is basically representing the body as a problem or a crisis that teens should over come to reach the body of desire “the ideal body image”. The desirable body image is smooth, think, tall, strong, young, sexy, healthy skin, no acne and so on.

The unmaking of body image is offering suggestions for the “unmaking” of varied body problems or spoiled identity. In this method writers try to advise readers to undertake body management routines or to consume certain body products. At the same time, writers advise girls to stage resistance against dominant female ideals and using cultural message for personal relevance as a way to overcome their body problems.

Author: Bishara Hazboun  Source: throughsearch

Body Image Studies


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In recent years, a large number of research studies on body image have taken place. A brief summary of the outcomes are outlined below.

Age Differences

Children: In females, dissatisfaction with their body begins at about 5-6 years.  A US survey found     that 81% of 10 year olds had been on at least one diet.  A survey in Sweden found that 25% of 7 year olds had a distorted view of their body image (viewing themselves larger than reality) and were dieting in a bid to lose weight.  Boys were found to be less concerned about their weight.

Adolescents. Boys have a short period of increased dissatisfaction associated with how they look during their adolescent years.  This soon fades as their bodies grow taller and broader, thus taking on  ‘manly’ physique.

The changes associated with adolescence in girls … increased weight, body fact, fuller hips etc, only serves to increase the level of

dissatisfaction with their appearance. Harvard University found that the numbers of adolescent females that thought they were too fat:-

- 66% :12 year olds.

- 50% : 13 year olds.

- over 50%: 14 year olds focused on specific areas e.g. hips

- 70%: 17 years olds have been on a diet & 80% unhappy with their image.

Adults: Over 80% of adult women are unhappy with their appearance, many of them have a distorted image of themselves. Surprisingly,   these women are psychologically sound, attractive, of normal/healthy weight, yet they perceive themselves as fat and unattractive. The   focus for adult women is the shape and size of their bodies, particularly the hips, thighs, waist and abdomen.

Recent studies have indicated a rise in body dissatisfaction in males, peaking in the 45-55 age group. They are mainly concerned with hair   loss, followed by their stomach, chest and height.
Animal Kingdom
Unlike human’s and many great apes (chimps, gorillas and orang-utans), animals do not perceive their reflections as an image of themselves, but as another animal of their kind. When given a mirror, great apes will often groom themselves in a similar way to us.


Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BBD)

BDD is defined as a preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in appearance. This preoccupation causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of a person’s life. Facial areas, including skin, hair and  nose, are the most common area of concern.

Culture
Individuals who do not accept the culture ‘norm’ of thinness and beauty, tend to have a more positive body-image than those who do. (see the ethnicity section below).

Eating Disorders
Individuals who suffer from eating disorders like Anorexia and Bulimia, tend to have a higher level of dissatisfaction with their body image and a heightened degree of body distortion when viewing their reflection. These individuals also perceived an increase in their body size after then had consumed a high calorie snack or meal.

Ethnicity
Generally speaking, Black and Asian women have a more positive body image then their Caucasian counterparts. This statement needs to be qualified, as it is dependent on how much of the alternative, usually dominant culture has been accepted. A study of Mexican immigrants to the US, has concluded that the depth of cultural acceptance is itself dependent on the age at which an individual entered the culture…those arriving after 17 years old are less affected.

Further US studies have revealed that Black women with a high levels of self confidence and racial identify (even those who were moderately or severely overweight) rated their bodies more attractive than how the culture in which they lived rated it. Clearly they had a more relaxed, flexible approach to what they saw as a desirable body shape. On other hand, Caucasian women were more unhappy, because they were trying to conform to the inflexible cultural ‘ideal’. Similar UK studies have shown that UK Black and Asian women rated fuller even obese bodies more highly that Caucasian women did.
Gender
Research clearly shows that women are more disapproving of their bodies and reflections than men. Over 50% have a distorted image of themselves. A survey (Real Magazine in November 2002) of 5,000 women in the UK found that 91% of women were unhappy with their hips and thighs and 60% were depressed by their body image. 84% of those who were at normal weight, still wished they were lighter. Only 3% of women were happy with their bodies.
Men’s more positive image, can be attributed to the fact that they are not judged on appearance as rigidly as women i.e. there is less pressure to confirm to an ‘Official Body’ (Naomi Woolf ) as defined by society and the media. Interestedly, today’s adolescence are subjected to more images of ‘beauty’ in 24 hours than their mothers saw in throughout their adolescent years.
In the last few years the ‘perfect’ women has deviated more and more from the norm. 25 years ago Ms Average weighed 8% more than the models and celebrities of the day, today she weights 23% more. It is estimated that taking all factors not just weight into account e.g. facial beauty, only 1% of females conform.
Homosexuality
Interestingly, in regards to appearance, studies have shown that gay man are less happy and conversely, lesbian women are happier that than their heterosexual counterparts. This fact is likely to be due to the focus on appearance that is prevalent in gay culture.

Mass Media
Evidence suggests that an Individual’s level of body dissatisfaction increases when they come into contact with mass media images of ‘perfection’. Certain clinics treating eating disorders have banned certain magazines e.g. Vogue and Elle, because of the adverse effects that they have on their patients body image and self esteem.

In 2004 Dove launched a ‘Real Women’ advertising campaign, that went against the normal cultural images of perfection.

Menstruation
Women tend to have a lower body image during the pre-menstrual phase of their menstrual cycle.

Mental Disposition
Studies have shown that that women in a bad/low mood, then to experience a greater degree of dissatisfaction with their appearances. It should be noted that these studies have largely been conducted on women who are known to have a poor/distorted body image.

Observation
Similar to the Mass Media studies above, the sight of others who comply to the accepted standards of body size e.g. communal changing rooms and swimming pools, also results in increased levels of dissatisfaction with one’s appearance.

Overweight
Overweight individuals in Britain especially women often face widespread prejudice. It is not therefore surprising that overweight people tend to suffer from severe body dissatisfaction and depression. In countries where the culture does not associate thinness with acceptance, success and beauty; overweight individuals do not suffer from the same levels of negativity.

Past Experiences
Children and adolescence often experience a distorted body image in later life if they:-
- were teased about their weight/size or some other factor of their

appearance
- lack of physical contact e.g. hugging / cuddles

Pregnancy
During pregnancy women tend to have a higher body image.

Reflections
When someone looks at their reflection, what they see and their resulting reaction is determined my a multitude of factors including their age, gender, marital status, level of sporting activity and the influence mass media has had on them.

Relationship
Individuals who are in a long term stable relationship have been shown to have a better body image than single individuals.
Sporting Activity
Male body builders have a lower body satisfaction level than other men. This contradicts popular belief that generally views them as vain. In reality, they are perfectionist and often suffer from low self esteem. In contrast female body builders and sportswomen tend to have higher levels of satisfaction than other women. This fact has resulted in some therapist using exercise and sporting activity in their treatment of individuals suffering from body image distortion. Generally speaking,  sportsmen and women have a higher level of satisfaction than others.

  • Reference: Fox Kate 1997 [Social Issues Research Centre] Mirror, Mirror: A summary of research findings on body image.
  • Barbie’s figure ‘gives young girls a desire to have a thinner body’

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    inmagine.com

    Girls as young as five worry about their weight after seeing images of unrealistically slim figures, new research has revealed. In the first study of its kind, researchers used pictures of Barbie dolls to assess the impact of cultural ideals of “thinness” on very young children.

    A group of more than 100 girls, aged between five and seven years old, were given books to look at while someone read them a story about shopping and getting ready to go to a birthday party.

    Some of the books contained images of Barbie, while the others showed “neutral” pictures which contained no people at all.

    Researchers found that girls who were exposed to pictures of the dolls reported lower body esteem and  a greater desire for a thinner body shape.

    They concluded that early exposure to the dolls with an unrealistically thin body shape may damage the body image of girls, leading to an increased risk of disordered eating and cycles of weight gain and loss.

    The study was carried out by Dr Emma Halliwell of the University of the West of England, along with Dr Helga Dittmar and Suzie Ives at Sussex University.

    Halliwell, a lecturer based at the university’s Centre for Appearance Research, said it was clear that the pressures to be thin started at an early age. “We found that when the children were exposed to these images of Barbie, they reported more negative attitudes about their appearance,” she said.

    “Quite strikingly, when they were looking at the control images (the neural pictures) there wasn’t a difference between the way they thought they looked and the way they wanted to look.

    “But after viewing pictures of Barbie, they wanted to look thinner than they thought they were.”

    Previous research has highlighted that it is not just adults who are being influenced by the constant deluge of images of stick-thin models.

    A recent study of Scottish children found that around 52% of 15-year-old girls considered themselves to be “too fat” and 29% were actively trying to lose weight.

    Levels of reported dieting were lower among boys, but as much as 11% of 11-year-old boys and 9% of 13-year-olds thought they were overweight.

    The ideal body shape has over the years become increasingly unrealistic. It has been calculated that if an average woman had the same proportions as a Barbie doll, she would have to grow 17 inches in height and have a body shape which is found in less than one in 100,000 women.

    Halliwell said: “The dimensions of our ideals of beauty are changing, so it’s widely documented that models are becoming thinner.

    “On average, models are about 20% underweight.

    “There has been a change in the images that have been used and perhaps in the targeting of advertising as well, with an increase in teenage magazines and pre-teen magazines.”

    The research will be presented this Tuesday at Fit For The Future 2005, a conference which will be held in London on tackling obesity and improving lifestyles for children and young people.

    A new initiative aimed at improving healthy eating education in schools was launched last week by NHS Health Scotland. The Growing Through Adolescence resource pack, to be used by teachers, addresses topics including self esteem, body image and dieting.

    Monica Merson, health improvement programme manager at NHS Health Scotland, said that one exercise used involves asking pupils to draw their image of a healthy person.

    She said: “Ten years ago, the children drew healthy people, with wider shapes. Now the people they are drawing are thinner and thinner and very slim, with almost no curves in the women.

    “These are coming from children aged five to seven-years-old and we are increasingly coming across that.”

    Merson said that children tended to “soak up” messages from around their environment, and part of the initiative aimed to teach them to become more media literate.

    “They are very great consumers of the information that goes on around them, not just in school, but messages from their parents, peers, TV, radio and from advertising generally,” she said.

    “This programme is trying to help them to become more able to understand what is real and not real.”

    While Halliwell agreed that using health education programmes in schools was one way to counteract the numerous images of thin celebrities, she argued that the media should also be challenged to include more diverse representations of attractiveness.

    “Advertisers often argue that thin sells, but we have been looking at how effective adverts are when they have average-size looking models,” she said.

    “What we have found is that as long as the models you use are attractive, those adverts appear to be equally attractive. So it goes against the idea that you have to use ultra-thin models.”

    By Judith Duffy, Health Correspondent
    © Sunday Herald 2005

    Women ‘obsessed by their bodies’

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    inmagine.co

    Women are obsessed by their bodies, and even many of those who are of normal weight wish they could be slimmer, a survey suggests.

    The survey of 5,000 women commissioned by Top Sante magazine found that 85% of women in the UK think about their size and shape every day.

    Eight of 10 women said that their lives would improve considerably if they were totally happy with their body.

    Half of those surveyed classified themselves as overweight. This closely resembles current government statistics which show 53% of British females are now overweight.

    The impact of self-image on sex
    Seven out of 10 women don’t feel confident undressing in front of their partner

    Seven out of 10 don’t feel confident about their body during sex

    86% of women think men find slim women more attractive

    83% of women say overweight men are a turn-off

    59% of women say they prefer food to sex

    An overwhelming 98% of women who are overweight are unhappy with their size and their shape.

    And even 78% of women who fall within normal weight limits for their height still wish they were slimmer – by an average of 10lbs.

    The survey also found that 73% of women who are underweight are unhappy with their body size and shape.

    Only 1% of women are happy with the whole of their body.

    Nearly nine out of 10 (86%) women have dieted at some stage and the average woman has tried to diet 32 times. One in 10 women say they diet constantly.

    However, only 50% of women say they exercise three times a week.

    Plastic surgery

    Some 62% of all women say they will ‘definitely’ (29%) or ‘possibly’ (33%) have plastic surgery.

    More than three-quarters (76%) of women think their sex-life would be better if they were their ideal shape and size.

    Size and discrimination
    91% of women think society discriminates against overweight people

    81% think slim women find it easier to get a good job

    62% think overweight people tend to be viewed as less intelligent than average

    71% of overweight women have suffered derogatory remarks

    48% have been labelled with a hurtful size-related nickname

    The survey found that women viewed other females as most critical about their bodies.

    Four out of 10 women have suffered from some kind of eating disorder including anorexia (8%), bulimia (10%) and bingeing (25%).

    But only 23% of these women have ever sought any medical help.

    Top Sante editor Karen Williamson said: “British women have become incredibly critical of their bodies and their obsession with their shape and size is spoiling their lives.

    “It’s time we did ourselves a favour and let go of the unrealistic ‘perfect’ body dream and celebrated the female form in all its uniqueness.”

    Women who took part in the survey were asked who was the most inspirational woman in the world.

    They voted supermodel Cindy Crawford into first place followed by Madonna, Julia Roberts and Goldie Hawn.(news.bbc.co.uk)

    Women 'obsessed by their bodies'

    inmagine.com

    inmagine.co

    Women are obsessed by their bodies, and even many of those who are of normal weight wish they could be slimmer, a survey suggests.

    The survey of 5,000 women commissioned by Top Sante magazine found that 85% of women in the UK think about their size and shape every day.

    Eight of 10 women said that their lives would improve considerably if they were totally happy with their body.

    Half of those surveyed classified themselves as overweight. This closely resembles current government statistics which show 53% of British females are now overweight.

    The impact of self-image on sex
    Seven out of 10 women don’t feel confident undressing in front of their partner

    Seven out of 10 don’t feel confident about their body during sex

    86% of women think men find slim women more attractive

    83% of women say overweight men are a turn-off

    59% of women say they prefer food to sex

    An overwhelming 98% of women who are overweight are unhappy with their size and their shape.

    And even 78% of women who fall within normal weight limits for their height still wish they were slimmer – by an average of 10lbs.

    The survey also found that 73% of women who are underweight are unhappy with their body size and shape.

    Only 1% of women are happy with the whole of their body.

    Nearly nine out of 10 (86%) women have dieted at some stage and the average woman has tried to diet 32 times. One in 10 women say they diet constantly.

    However, only 50% of women say they exercise three times a week.

    Plastic surgery

    Some 62% of all women say they will ‘definitely’ (29%) or ‘possibly’ (33%) have plastic surgery.

    More than three-quarters (76%) of women think their sex-life would be better if they were their ideal shape and size.

    Size and discrimination
    91% of women think society discriminates against overweight people

    81% think slim women find it easier to get a good job

    62% think overweight people tend to be viewed as less intelligent than average

    71% of overweight women have suffered derogatory remarks

    48% have been labelled with a hurtful size-related nickname

    The survey found that women viewed other females as most critical about their bodies.

    Four out of 10 women have suffered from some kind of eating disorder including anorexia (8%), bulimia (10%) and bingeing (25%).

    But only 23% of these women have ever sought any medical help.

    Top Sante editor Karen Williamson said: “British women have become incredibly critical of their bodies and their obsession with their shape and size is spoiling their lives.

    “It’s time we did ourselves a favour and let go of the unrealistic ‘perfect’ body dream and celebrated the female form in all its uniqueness.”

    Women who took part in the survey were asked who was the most inspirational woman in the world.

    They voted supermodel Cindy Crawford into first place followed by Madonna, Julia Roberts and Goldie Hawn.(news.bbc.co.uk)