Children unhappy with looks face psychological consequences

March 19th, 2009 - 4:10 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 19 (IANS) Satisfaction with one’s looks is vital for a positive self-image. And children and young people having a negative body image can have a number of serious psychological consequences.
Children who are teased or subject to bullying are particularly critical of their appearance - and they tend to be this way over a long period.

It increases the risk of developing eating disorders and depression. Being dissatisfied with appearance can also limit children and young people in their everyday lives.

In her psychology thesis, Carolina Lunde of University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has followed almost 1,000 children aged between 10 and 14 years to examine the link between body image and peer group relationships.

An important conclusion is that both boys and girls become more dissatisfied with their body and their appearance during this age bracket - even though the girls were consistently more dissatisfied with their appearance than the boys.

The early teens can therefore be regarded as a high risk period for acquiring a negative body image. The children who weighed the most at 10 years old were particularly dissatisfied with their appearance.

Furthermore, overweight children, primarily girls, were bullied and teased about their appearance considerably more often than the other children in the study.

Overweight children who are bullied can therefore be said to bear a double burden, which means that they are in the risk zone in terms of developing a negative body image, said a Gothenberg University release.

As negative attitudes towards overweight people are formed when children are young, Lunde feels that it is important to try to counteract these prejudices at an early stage.

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