TORONTO, Feb. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Kids Help Phone's professional counsellors
have recently noted an anecdotal increase in calls from boys who are
concerned with their body image.
It's a topic often associated with girls, but body image affects boys,
too. In one study, 25% of boys reported being teased by their peers
about their weight. In the home, 16% of boys reported having been
teased by a family member.
"No matter how many times a parent says 'you're beautiful,' youths will
usually remember negative comments they hear from peers," says
Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, a professional counsellor at Kids Help Phone.
"Television, magazines, music videos, movies, and marketing also
influence kids' perceptions of physical beauty, even though many of the
images they portray are unrealistic."
Why we want to talk about this
By recognizing their children for their inner qualities and focusing on
their accomplishments, parents help to teach kids that what is really
important about them has nothing to do with their size, shape or
Body dissatisfaction in young people can be a predictor for later
physical and mental health difficulties, including obesity and the
development of eating disorders. In contrast, body acceptance is
associated with more positive physical and mental health, including
maintaining a healthy weight over time.
February 5-11th is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
According to a 2003 survey of adolescents in grades 7-12, 30% of girls
and 25% of boys reported teasing by peers about their weight. Such
teasing has been found to persist in the home as well - 29% of girls
and 16% of boys reported having been teased by a family member about
Nearly 1/2 of teen girls and 1/3 of teen boys try to control their
weight in unhealthy ways, like skipping meals, taking laxatives, or
smoking. Teens who are higher in weight and overweight are more likely
to engage in unhealthy weight control practices.
4% of boys in grades 9 and 10 reported anabolic steroid use in a 2002
study, showing that body preoccupation and attempts to alter one's body
are issues affecting both men and women.
Physical health accounts for 2% of contacts Kids Help Phone receives.
Mental health, including eating disorders, accounts for 30% of contacts
Kids Help Phone receives.
What our experts are saying
"Parents have a role in helping their kids feel secure," Roberts says.
"Young people should know that beauty has many definitions, and people
come in all shapes and sizes. During adolescence, it can also take time
to adjust to the body changes that occur as a natural part of puberty.
It's normal to feel awkward during this time in a kid's life."
What can parents do?
Set a positive example. When parents criticize their own weight or model
dieting behaviours, it can send damaging messages. When you are more
accepting of your own body, you make it easier for your children to
accept themselves and their own bodies as well.
Don't focus on weight, focus on health. We all come in different shapes
and sizes. It's possible to be healthy at any size. Provide your
child with a range of healthy foods and make opportunities for them to
engage in enjoyable physical activity, and trust that the rest will
take care of itself.
If your child is involved in sports, talk to their coach, gym teacher,
or teammates. Find out what kind of messages they're getting related to
body image, eating and exercise.
Kids Help Phone's professional counsellors are available for interviews
to share expert tips on how to talk to your children about body image,
self-esteem, eating disorders and more.
About Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is Canada's leading phone and online counselling service
for youth. It's free, anonymous and confidential. Professional
counsellors are available any time of the day or night, 365 days a
year, to help young people, ages five to 20, deal with concerns large
or small. As a community-based national charity, Kids Help Phone
receives no core government funding and relies on community and
corporate support to fund its essential and vital service.
SOURCE Kids Help Phone
For further information:
To set up an interview about body image please contact:
Liz Worth, Communications Coordinator:
1-800-268-3062 ext. 8955