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Body Image and Body Shape
Distorted Body Image can Cause Eating Disorders, Bingeing and Teenage Obesity
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Body Image, Body Shape

Body image and body shape are important factors in weight control. The self-image we have of the size, shape and weight of our body determines many things - not least our attitude to dieting and weight loss. Unfortunately, many of us have an unreasonably negative view of our body size and shape. As a result:

  • We aim for an unreasonably low weight - almost guaranteeing failure.
  • We try to lose weight too fast - almost guaranteeing failure.
  • We try fad diets and other bogus weight loss products.
  • We convey our negative body image to our children.
  • We set ourselves up for eating disorders and malnutrition.

Before trying yet another diet or weight loss product, try to improve your body image.


US Research into Body Image & Shape

Research into body image by Kellogg's Corporation reveals that women typically base their perceptions of their body shape on the size and shape of models and TV/Hollywood stars, rather than on the size and shape of ordinary women.

For example, the estimated 'average' American woman [5 feet 4 inches] weighs 138 pounds, while the estimated 'average' model [5 feet 9/10 inches] weighs a mere 120 pounds.

No wonder an estimated 95 percent of women and 33 percent of men have complaints about their shape and have such a negative body image. How can they compete with the perfect body and shape of a supermodel?

UK Research Into Body Image & Shape

Recent UK research into perceptions people have of their body image and shape, show that:

  • UK women are up to 10 times more likely than men to be unhappy with their body image. This negative perception persists even when women are a healthy weight for their height, according to a new survey.
  • Just 1% of young UK women were "completely happy" with the shape of their body and that one in ten had taken drugs to try to achieve their ideal weight.

Distorted Body Image & Shape in US Teenagers and Pre-Teens

  • Reports indicate that children as young as 5 years old are becoming concerned, even obsessed, with their weight and shape. Indeed, eating disorders and significantly disordered eating attitudes and behaviors are appearing in pre-teens and teens at an increasing rate.
  • According to US estimates from The National Institute of Mental Health, between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of girls and women (i.e. 5-10 million people) and 1 million boys and men suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or other associated dietary conditions.
  • Estimates suggest that as many as 15 percent of young women adopt unhealthy attitudes and behaviors about food.

Give Yourself A Chance! Improve Your Body Image

You may not be able to change your frame-size or body shape. You may even have difficulty dieting. But you CAN change your body image. For example:

  • Stop comparing yourself with models or film stars.
  • Stop focusing on the body areas you don't like - look at ALL your body.
  • Get active - both physically and mentally. Busy, occupied people have less time to worry about body image and shape than those with time on their hands.
  • Appreciate the things you have, rather than focusing on the things (including small butt, long thin legs) you don't have.
  • When trying to lose weight, have REASONABLE weight-loss expectations and avoid buying diet products that promise 'miracle' results. There are no miracle results in dieting and weight control!

Sources include:
The National Institute of Mental Health.
BBC Health.
UK Health Service.


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