Young Children Show Growing Preoccupation with Weight

June 25, 2008 07:00 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
Kids are starting to worry about their weight and their bodies at increasingly younger ages. Experts say many factors are at play.

30-Second Summary

It used to be that kids didn’t worry about their weight until they were teens or pre-teens. Now they’re starting to worry about it at nine or ten years old—sometimes even earlier.

Psychologist Dan Bowman says he is working with an increasing number of children facing body image issues. Some of his patients are as young as five years old.

“Whether it is Hollywood, the Internet, family life or even genetics, children are developing negative body images at young ages,” writes The Birmingham News.

Andrew Hill, a medical psychology professor at Leeds University, said, “There’s a great emphasis in society on appearance. You see it in magazines, in newspapers, on billboards. You don’t have to be a certain age to understand its importance.”
The media has borne its fair share of the blame for how boys and girls see themselves today, but a recent study has indicated that some youth television shows are making an effort to portray overweight characters more favorably.
“Either producers and directors are becoming more sensitive to body weight and they’re including more diversity in their characters, or they’re feeling pressure from outside groups,” stated Tom Robinson, a communications professor at Brigham Young University.

Body image issues are dangerous because in many cases they are a prelude to an eating disorder, cautioned Bowman.

He concluded, “Information is spreading quicker than ever, and young people are being exposed to things. I think kids are just growing up faster.”

Headline Links: How kids feel about themselves

Related Topics: Fashion, the media and body image

Reference: Physical fitness, eating disorders


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