Body anxious kids as young as 11 are avoiding PE finds YMCA

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​Youngsters are so worried about their body image many hide away and some are even considering surgery report finds

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20th January 2017 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

A third of Scottish secondary school pupils admit to doing things like skipping PE lessons because they are anxious about their body image.

A survey of 2,000 secondary school pupils as part of the Be Real Campaign, made up of individuals, businesses, charities and public bodies, found that half admitted they don’t like how they look with 30% saying they had isolated themselves from certain activities as a result.

Just over half of those asked, aged between 11 and 16, said they had been on a diet or would consider going on one to change the way they look, and worryingly one in 10 said they were considering cosmetic surgery to change their appearance.

The report highlights the vital part schools have to play in tackling body image anxiety, as three quarters of young people who learned about body confidence as part of their curriculum said it made them feel more positive about themselves.

However, despite this, less than half of young people surveyed said they had learned about the issue in the classroom and almost a fifth of teachers surveyed said they did not feel confident talking about body confidence with their pupils.

On the back of today’s findings, YMCA Scotland, one of the charities involved in the campaign, has teamed up with Dove to launch a new body confidence campaign toolkit for schools. Available to download for all secondary schools across the country, the pack provides lesson guidance, advice and materials to help teachers educate their pupils about body image.

Kerry Reilly, YMCA Scotland chief executive, said: “The research released today shows how harmful body image anxiety can be for secondary school pupils as young as 11 years old.

“Young people tell us that they face increasing pressures to conform to the unrealistic beauty standards they see in the media and through celebrity culture.

“Evidence shows that schools are uniquely placed to support young people to hold positive discussions around body image with their peers and help reduce the negative impact low body confidence can have. We urge all local schools to help young people be confident with their bodies and build their self-esteem by using the toolkit so they grow into healthy adults.”

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