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New report highlights prevalent body image concerns among UK schoolchildren

08/09/2017 Joanna

More than two-thirds of young people are worried about aspects of their appearance as they return to school for the new academic year.

This is according to a new report from the YMCA and Dove, which have surveyed more than 1,000 young people across the UK as part of their Be Real campaign. It found that 69 per cent of school students are heading back to school with body image concerns, with 26 per cent saying the way they look is one of their biggest worries.

The survey indicated that these concerns tend to grow more prevalent as children get older, with 20 per cent of young people aged 11 to 12 years old saying they worry about their appearance, compared to 32 per cent among 15 to 16-year-olds.

It was also pointed out that these concerns can have an impact on educational attainment, as many young people avoid raising their hand in class or taking part in school activities due to their self-consciousness.

As such, supporters of the Be Real campaign are calling on schools and education professionals to treat body image as a key priority during the new school year, as teachers can make a big difference in tackling the negative effects that body image anxiety can have on young people.

A free toolkit for schools has already been made available by the campaign group, which has been downloaded almost 1,400 times since launch and has received positive feedback from both teachers and students.

Denise Hatton, chief executive of YMCA England and Wales, said: "Schools are uniquely placed to support young people to hold positive discussions around body image with their peers, and help reduce the negative impact low body confidence can have.

"In this digital age, it's now more important than ever that we talk openly about body image, so that young people can feel comfortable in their skin."

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