On 2nd August 2022, the House of Commons Committee published a report about the impact of body image on mental and physical health, with recommendations to government for which they have two months to respond.
The Impact of Body Impact on Mental Health Report
- Social media and online advertising has increased our exposure to “idealised” body types.
- A Mental Health Foundation report in 2019 found 31% of teenagers and 35% of adults feel ashamed or depressed because of their body image.
- The government survey suggests people’s thoughts and feelings about their bodies have changed considerably over recent year.
- 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their body image had a negative impact on their mental health.
- 61% agreeing or strongly agreeing that their body image negatively impacts their physical health.
- There is little evidence that the Government is doing enough to understand the scale of these risks or to provide the necessary services for those seeking help.
- They recommend the government commission and fund new research to understand what is causing the rise in body image dissatisfaction.
- The proportion of 11 to 16 year olds with possible eating disorders increasing from 6.7% to 13% since 2017.
- The proportion of 17 to 19 year olds with possible eating disorders increasing from 44.6% to 58.2% since 2017.
- They believe the Government should introduce legislation to label images where any part of the body, including its proportions and skin tone, are digitally altered.
- 31% of respondents had accessed, or tried to access, health services for issues relating to body image in the past, of which 64% felt that their experience was negative and 55% felt that they had been stigmatised
- They recommend an urgent review of (anti) obesity campaigns, to stress that being underweight is a risk to health just as being overweight.
- 72% of our survey respondents said they did not think the topic of body image and its related health impacts is receiving sufficient attention from national policymakers.
- They urge the government to initiate a comprehensive cross-government strategy, covering education about self-worth, body positivity, critical thinking and appraising images, as well as wider health advice such spotting signs and symptoms of eating disorders, anxiety and depression and body dysmorphia, within educational, health and online/media settings.
It is clear that more needs to be done.
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