Almost two thirds (63 per cent) of 14 and 15-year-old girls aspire to be thinner, according to the UK Schools Health Education Unity study, which quizzed over 93,600 pupils on a variety of topics surrounding their body weight. More than half of those were 12 and 13-year-olds.
Meanwhile, a third of children in their final year of primary school (10 and 11-year-olds) said that they would like to lose weight, with girls forming the majority sex of those who were most weight-conscious.
Of even more concern was that one in six 14 and 15-year-olds, and over one in 10 boys of this same age admitted to skipping breakfast, according to the survey.
Laura Sharp, a nutritionist for the Children’s Food Trust, said alarm bells should be ringing for parents:
“These are very worrying findings – all pupils, whatever their age, need to start the day with breakfast if they’re going to be able to focus in class, and research shows a clear link between eating breakfast and children’s attainment at school.
“What’s particularly worrying is that girls and boys are skipping meals at a time when their bodies are changing fast and they’re particularly in need of good nourishment.
Setting up healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle for kids early on is paramount in tackling body image concerns in these pre and pubescent years. Starting the day off with a balanced and healthy breakfast is also key in kick-starting their metabolism and readying it for the years ahead.
Similarly, parents who lead by example and lead a healthy lifestyle, are more likely to raise healthier kids. Read more here.
For more healthy eating tips for children, go here.