A new study has found that a shocking 80 percent of 10-year-old American girls have dieted and have low self-esteem and image issues.
The research, carried out by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that reviews media content targeted at kids, showed that one out of four children had dieted prior to turning 7-years-old.
And the issue isn’t limited to girls, as one-third of American boys also diet frequently and wish their bodies looked better.
Common Sense Media is encouraging parents to listen to children if they engage in negative talk about their bodies or show signs of dramatic weight loss or gain.
According to the study, the blame for the dieting fads lies squarely with the media’s unrealistic depictions of body images, particularly when it comes to pop stars, models, and entertainers.
One pop star, Lorde, recently pitched-in on the issue, taking to Twitter to express her concerns over a photo of her which had been photoshopped to rid her face of imperfections.
“I find this curious – two photos from today, one edited so my skin is perfect and one real.’ Remember flaws are OK,” she tweeted.
At the same time, with the massive rise of social media, children are also increasingly being affected by other people’s ideas about how they look in photos posted online, be it via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
Other social media sites are also responsible for encouraging low self-esteem in youngsters, such as Tumblr, which encourages young girls to seek to be perfect, with posts aimed at hashtags like “Fitspiration” and “how to be skinny.”
Another site, called Get Thispo, cynically exploits the insecurities of kids, by showcasing ultra skinny girls, sporting the motto, “You spend the first 10 years of your life playing with barbies and the next 10 trying to be one.”
The Common Sense Media research found that kids take “their cues from peers, adults, and media around them,” while “[y]oung children in particular pick up models for how to think and behave from those around them. Body-related talk and behavior is no exception.”
The Huffington Post reported that a representative from the National Eating Disorders Association, Claire Mysko, told them, “We live in a culture where the emphasis on weight loss and thinness is everywhere, so it’s not surprising that young people are getting caught up in these obsessions. And when children are dissatisfied with their bodies, they’re more likely to struggle with low self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders.”