Research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies has found children are dissatisfied with their body size

Research has found children are unhappy with their body size.

CHILDREN as young as eight are expressing dissatisfaction with their body size, new research has found.

Clinical psychologists Louise George and Ariana Elias were concerned by the findings from the Australian Institute of Family Studies and wanted to do something to help parents tackle the difficult issue.

“The difficulty is body image has a huge impact emotionally and psychologically,” Ms George said.

“Children experience more social isolation, they are more vulnerable to depression and on top of that body dissatisfaction also plays a role in obesity and being overweight.

“Body dissatisfaction is an important risk factor of developing obesity and becoming overweight as there is a correlation between binge eating and not exercising and we’re aware that body image is one of the most robust risk factors in the development of eating disorders.”

Clinical psychologist Louise George is running a program called Raising Body Confident Kids in Balmain to tackle body issues for children.

The psychologists have developed a program called Raising Body Confident Kids aimed at parents and children aged eight to 15, which provides tools, information and strategies to help foster body contentment.

Tell us your thoughts below

“We think there are a number of factors that play a role in body dissatisfaction and in response our program tries to tackle it in a number of different directions in terms of trying to teach kids media literacy and we’re looking at traditional media and next generation media such as the internet and social media,” she said.

“We’re trying to build resilience with how to teach children to build a sense of identity beyond their appearance, looking at issues around puberty and how children are particularly vulnerable to this during puberty and different approaches to food and exercise that would encourage body contentment.”

Clinical psychologist Ariana Elias also developed the workshop to teach parents skills to help improve the body image of their children. Picture: John Appleyard

More information is available at


■ The Australian Institute of Family Studies looked at more than 4000 children aged 8-9 and again at 10-11 to understand how they perceive their body size, what was the desired body size, whether they were controlling their weight and the impacts on their social, emotional and physical wellbeing

■ It found children are expressing dissatisfaction with their body size as early as 8-9 and the majority of 10-11-year-olds try to control their weight

■ As a result, the children are more likely to have poorer social and emotional wellbeing and physical health