Thursday, September 3, 2009

Body Image A Huge Concern for Teens

A survey of almost 2,000 Australian teens has revealed that the vast majority have anxiety over their own body image and the unhealthy images being promoted, with only 27% of Australian teens claiming they are happy when they look in the mirror. A significant 33% of teens have had an eating disorder, or have known someone with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.

Habbo released the findings yesterday as part of an online survey of 1,957 Australians aged 12 to 18 (Generation Z). An even number of males and females participated in the survey, with respondents from each state and territory.

The following channels were voted as responsible for promoting unhealthy body images:
  1. Media – 43%
  2. Models – 27%
  3. Friends – 7%
  4. Schools – 6%
  5. Parents – 5%
  6. Body builders - 5%
Australian teens (32%) believe that using healthy sized models and ambassadors across all media is the best way to increase awareness about healthy body image. 31% suggested further education in schools, followed by television programs promoting a healthy outlook (13%).

Ngaire Stevens, Business Development Manager, Sulake & Habbo, explains “The results from the Habbo Body Image Survey suggest that teens in Generation Z are wary of the pressures around them to have a certain type of body image ... the concerning thing is that they are still dieting, are not happy with their own body images and feel pressure to adhere to what’s being promoted in the media and other channels of influence. Generation Z is an extremely aware generation and they are calling for healthier body images to be promoted ... the initiatives currently in place are clearly not having a significant enough impact. We would like to see action taken by the media industry, health departments and the Federal Government to address body image issues for Australian teenagers.”

Last night I took part in an online forum for Reach Out discussing body image and it is clear there is still much that needs to be done to make young people aware of the dangers of dieting and the serious consequences of eating disorders. We also need to educate young people about the best ways to help and support someone they love.

With that in mind, this survey clearly establishes the need for the media industry in particular to actively promote health and wellbeing in direct relation to positive body image to protect and foster the body confidence and self esteem of this next generation of Australian teens.

For details of the survey go Here

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