Kids Begin to Worry About Their Body Image at an Alarmingly Young Age

kid on scaleThink you've still got a few years to go before your kids start worrying about how they look? On the contrary, a new study has found that kids can have body image issues as young as age 8 -- and these can lead to eating disorders down the road.

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To reach these conclusions, researchers followed about 6,000 children until the age of 14. They found that by the wee age of 8, 5 percent of girls (and 3 percent of boys) were unhappy with their bodies.

And these self-conscious kids were particularly at risk for eating disorders later on. By age 14, 39 percent of the girls had confessed to dieting in the last year, and 8 percent had binged.

More from The Stir: New Way to Boost Girls' Body Image: Let Them See Your Adult Friends Naked

Yeesh. So sad that kids this young are worried over how they look. I thought I didn't have to start worrying about my daughter's body image until her teens or, at worst, tweens. But 8? Their bodies haven't even, um, developed yet! They're not dating (at least I hope they aren't) or being checked out by the opposite sex. I'm not sure why these young 'uns are so worried about their bodies, but the fact that they are makes me sad.

I guess the take-home lesson for moms, at least, is that they should be on the lookout for signs of body image issues at even this young age. That way, they can talk about it, and get more serious intervention if necessary.

That said, the researchers also point out that interventions like healthy eating classes that aren't geared for kids can actually be harmful, since kids that age don't know how to process the information they're given. In other words, don't launch into a huge long treatise on portion control or the benefits of exercise unless you feel your child is ready. 

 

Image via AGorohov/shutterstock

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