New research conducted by Flinders University shows South Australian kids demonstrate an unhealthy concern about body image when it comes to the perceptions about being healthy.
The study shows that 11-12 year old children describe the negative consequences of consuming various foods on their body, and feel the need to take personal responsibility for choices which prevent ‘fatness’.
Concern risen from the study highlights that children are focusing on the visual elements like thinness determines an individual as a healthy body and this could have a negative impact on their wellbeing.
Children over-emphasised the links between body size and their health, without acknowledging other aspects of health such as sleep, socialisation and feeling good.
Lead author Dr Stefania Velardo, from the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work at Flinders University, says the results point to the importance of reshaping public messages and health education initiatives to encourage children to develop more positive relationships with food.
“When we talked to children about their understandings of health, they highlighted the importance of a healthy diet and active lifestyle to prevent diseases and specifically ‘fatness,’
“For example, some children could reasonably avoid healthy food consumption across the five core food groups if they are already seen to have a socially acceptable body. However, more concerning is the potential for children’s ideas about fatness to breed anxiety, shame and negative psychological experiences.”