Schools to provide better training on eating disorders

28/12/2007 - 00:00
Girlguiding UK and leading eating disorders charity Beat have formed a new self-esteem youth panel which is calling for more experts to be invited into schools to provide better training and advice on eating disorders, and to remind all adults that their comments count.

Advice is also available for families, schools and youth organisations to remember the potential impact of their comments about appearance and weight on young children.

Adults have been advised to take any doubts girls express about how they feel seriously as they are often the first sign of problems that can emerge more acutely as girls grow older.

New research carried out by pollsters Opinion leader and conducted by Girlguiding UK reveals that girls as young as seven are concerned about their body image.

A report, Under Ten and Under Pressure in partnership with Beat, also shows the happiness and confidence of the girls who took part to be intrinsically linked to strong and supportive friendship groups, popularity, and feeling included. Their greatest fear is bullying: being singled out, isolated or excluded.

Even at such a young age, weight and appearance are seen as key to securing the friendships they value so highly. Girls who are slim and pretty are seen as more likely to be happy, well-liked, friendly and clever.

But there were significant differences in girls' awareness of their own weight and appearance. Some were largely unaware and unconcerned, and others described themselves feeling overweight, anxious about wearing certain clothes, and conscious of how they compare to friends and how sensitive they are to remarks by family and friends.

Girls who live in London were the most aware and most likely to be critical of their own bodies. Other key factors were having families who comment about appearance, and having friends who have been singled out because of their weight.

Chief Guide Liz Burley commented: "Girlguiding UK's determination to enable girls of all ages to find the confidence they need to succeed is the reason we continue to use our girl-only space to help young women develop self-esteem through new adventures, experiences and friendships.

"At a time when girls and young women are under pressure than ever before, we hope this report will shed further light on how all of us can help girls build the self-confidence and determinations they need to seize the many opportunities open to them."

Girlguiding UK has also launched a new self-esteem resource for girls between 10 and 14 called 'Looking at me'. This covers topics from air-brushing and media manipulation, to eating disorders, cosmetic surgery, celebrity role models and advertising.

Weblink: www.girlguiding.org.uk/undertenandunderpressure

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