New Survey Shows Our Teenagers Body Hang Ups Are Worse Than Ever Before
Text and images by Louise Tansley
New research shows that as many as one in four teenage girls in the UK may suffer from symptoms of an eating disorder. Now more than ever, body hang ups seem to be a big issue amongst teenagers.
In the UK around 1.1 million people are estimated to have an eating disorder and 50% of these being teenage girls aged between 13 and 19 years old. With the number of women’s magazines in circulation it poses the question as to whether there is a certain pressure put on young women to look a certain way.
Are women's magazines really portraying the best image to the women of today?
Despite the fact that it is less well known, eating disorders within men are also on a rise. Figures show that over 10% of reported eating disorders are suffered by men; however these figures are thought to be underestimated due to the lack of help available for men in these circumstances.
However, it is not just disorders such as anorexia and bulimia that are a problem amongst the younger generation today. Obesity is now a bigger issue within children and adolescents than has ever been seen in previous years.
Obesity expert Dr. Laurel Edmunds says: “The environment [in which children are raised] is becoming more and more obesogenic. The food corporations and supermarkets are very powerful - they are still increasing the percentage of processed/prepared meals they sell. They spend millions on advertising less healthy foods to children, and at the same time opportunities to be physically active are still being reduced.”
More and more British men and women are obese - more than has been seen in 10 years
However, it isn’t just environmental factors that have been suggested to contribute towards a child with weight problems, peers and parents are also thought to be a large factor. Dr Laurel Edmunds adds: “Parents don't usually set out to make their children overweight. They follow family patterns, and so families with dysfunctions may not set appropriate boundaries for behaviours and eating can be one of those. Some mothers try very hard to help their children when they realise they are overweight, but sometimes these efforts are undermined by partners, grandparents and the environment. Working mums can get too tired to enforce new boundaries, cook healthier meals etc as these take a lot of physical and emotional energy.”
Fast food meals are considered a faster and easier option for busier families nowadays
Eighteen year old dance student Gemma McQueen said “Hearing about all the stories regarding plastic surgeries which have gone wrong terrifies me, and also I was brought up with a really healthy attitude towards body image, so I’ve learnt to be happy in my own skin.