Australian children as young as eight years old are now dealing with body images issues as they worry about being overweight. A new study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies has revealed primary age school children are concerned about their weight despite their young age.
Data showed many 10-year-old Aussies are thinking about managing their weight. Half of the children studied who had normal weight or were underweight were found to be unhappy with their bodies.
Three new studies also showed that three quarters of overweight children have issues with their body size. Children ages 10 to 11 are thinking about changing their body shape. They either want to gain, maintain or lose weight.
Ben Edwards, the Australian Institute of Family Studies executive, said the study was not "good news." He said it was concerning to know that children at such a young age feel bad about their bodies.
Edwards added that Australian children think about their bodies "far earlier" than people thought. The findings also suggested that boys and girls feel equally affected by their bodies. Edwards said this may be a warning to parents to be aware of how their children will feel when body image is discussed.
The data comes from an ongoing research, Growing Up in Australia, which involves tracking the development of 10,000 families in the country from all walks of life.
Financial status linked with obesity
Australian children who are more disadvantaged in life are more likely to be obese, starting at age four and throughout their childhood, than children who come from wealthier families. This is based on a previous research study of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, and the age gap is increasing over time.
In the long-term study, researchers measured the height and weight of children every two years, starting at age 4 to age 10. This method helped researchers track the children's body mass index (BMI) which they have used as an estimate of fat based on weight and height.
According to lead researcher Melissa Wake, the average body mass index of children from poorer backgrounds was higher at every age. Wake said social status has an impact on a child being obese before reaching puberty. Researchers believe these patterns may continue for the rest of their lives with increasing inequality.