The All Party Parliamentry Group looking into body image have recommended that all school children should receive lessons on self-esteem after they found that half the public have a negative perception of themselves.

Girls as young as five have significant concerns about how they are viewed according to the report Reflections on Body Image, which blames "media images of unrealistic bodies" for creating an overly image-conscious culture.

APPG chairwoman, Jo Swinson MP, said there was a "definite problem" with body image and that has "serious consequences".

"It's something which has existed for a long time but in terms of the scale of it, that is what is new, and it is being driven by the proliferation of media imagery portraying a so-called 'perfected ideal' that is entirely unattainable for the vast majority of people," she told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme

The report, based on a three-month inquiry involving online and oral surveys, shows that body dissatisfaction is a problem that affects people regardless of age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, body size or shape.

  • The inquiry - which heard from academics, magazine editors, company chief executives, the public, and other experts - also heard that:
  • Wiping out dieting could stop 70% of eating disorders
  • More than 95% of people on diets regain the weight they lose
  • 1.6 million people in the UK have eating disorders
  • Up to one in five cosmetic surgery patients could suffer from body dysmorphic disorder
  • One in three men would sacrifice a year of life to achieve their ideal body
  • One in five people have been victimised because of their weight
  • Children often reflected their parents' own body-related anxieties, the evidence suggested, while appearance is the greatest cause of bullying in schools

The APPG also made a series of recommendations, including:

  • The need for mandatory body image and self-esteem lessons for children at primary and secondary school
  • Requiring advertisers to run long-term campaigns that reflect consumer desire for "authenticity and diversity"
  • Using "weight-neutral" language for public health messages
  • Reviewing broadcast and editorial guidelines on reporting on body-image issues
  • Reviewing the evidence base that supports dieting
  • Creating a new set of regulations controlling cosmetic surgery advertising
  • Introducing screening for potential cosmetic surgery patients
  • The possible amending of the Equality Act to include appearance-related discrimination

For a full copy of the report go to http://bodyimage.org.uk 

Posted 31/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com