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How comfortable are children and young people with their bodies?

How comfortable are children and young people with their bodies? The Mental Health Foundation discusses recent research.

While exact estimates vary, we know that concerns and worries about appearance are commonplace among children and young people of different ages.

For children and young people aged 11–16:

  • Almost eight in ten (79%) say how they look is important to them,
  • Over half (52%) ‘often’ worry about how they look [1].

For children and young people aged 13–19:

  • More than a third (35%) say their body image causes them to ‘often’ or ‘always’ worry [2].

And for children and young people aged 16-25:

  • Body image is the third biggest challenge, after lack of employment opportunities and failure to succeed within the education system [3].

Body image concerns can also affect very young children, with one review finding evidence of body dissatisfaction in children under the age of six.

However, the results of studies on body image in very young children tend to vary widely depending on how body image is measured [4].


[1] Be Real. Somebody Like Me: A report investigating the impact of body image anxiety on young people in the UK. [Internet]. 2017.

[2] MHF. Body image report. 2019.

[3] YMCA. World of Good: The Challenge of Being Young in Modern Britain. [Internet]. 2016.

[4] Tatangelo G, McCabe M, Mellor D, Mealey A. A systematic review of body dissatisfaction and sociocultural messages related to the body among preschool children. Body Image. 2016; 18:86–95.

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How surprising are these statistics for you?

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Body Image and Mental Health in Young People

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