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30 May 2012, 17:13
Norwich bases eating disorders charity Beat is telling Heart why it would like to see more body image classes in schools for younger children.
It comes after an a new report by MPs showed that girls as young as five now worry about their size and appearance, with children in danger of picking up their parents' body-related anxieties.
According to Reflections on Body Image, co-authored by the MPs and health and education charity Central YMCA, negative body image was seen as an underlying cause of health and relationship problems, a key contributor to low self-esteem and a major barrier to participation in school and progression at work.
Appearance is also the greatest cause of bullying in schools, evidence suggested.
Children and adolescents were seen to be more vulnerable to body image concerns .
Around half of girls and up to one third of boys have dieted to lose weight and children and young people with body image dissatisfaction were less likely to engage in learning and participation in school, the report said.
MPs are now calling for body image classes to be taught in schools.
Norwich based charity BEAT help people with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia and have already started running body image workshops for older children in schools.
However, Leanne Thorndyke from the charity is telling Heart it would be helpful to have the classes from a younger age:
"They would have the skills, the way of thinking about themselves, to be more confident and obviously to look at these images and question them. We would like an image to say 'this has not been airbrushed,' so if people can develop that and see what they look like, it would only help."