London – Half of girls and a third of boys compare their bodies with those of people on TV, a study has found.
The pressure that children felt to have a certain figure meant that one in ten young boys would take steroids to become more muscular while one in eight girls said they would resort to diet pills or laxatives to help them slim down.
Researchers who surveyed 810 youngsters aged 11 to 16 revealed that over 50 percent of girls and more than a third of boys said they compared their bodies with those of people on TV, with about a quarter of both gender willing to undergo cosmetic surgery to recreate the look they wanted.
Rosi Prescott, chief executive of Central YMCA, the charity which commissioned the survey, said: “Young people appear to be increasingly insecure about their appearance and body image.
“There is a growing trend to resort to quick fixes, which are damaging to health and often unfulfilling.
“It is also interesting that what used to be seen as a problem affecting young girls has now spread to young men.
“The root cause of this problem is the pressure on young people to conform to an unattainable and unrealistic body image ideal.”
The figures follow the revelation earlier this year that children as young as five are being treated in hospital for severe anorexia.
An all-party group of MPs has begun an inquiry into body image in the UK, including anorexia, obesity and self-harm, after a survey earlier this year blamed celebrity culture, the fashion industry and advertisements for fuelling the obsession with being slim.
Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem MP who will chair the inquiry, said that people are resorting to extreme methods in often misguided attempts to match computer-enhanced images. She said: “One way to tackle it is to encourage people to feel confident about their body.”