Strict advertising 'could help children's body image'

Fears about the impact of social media influencers on young people's body image also raised in new report

Tes Reporter

Strict advertising could improve young people's body image, says new report

Advertising regulations should be tightened to improve young people's body image, according to a new report.

The Healthy Body Image for Children and Young People Advisory Group has also called on more transparency about social media "influencers".

Its new report for the Scottish government calls for stricter regulations on advertising aimed at young people and tighter restrictions on non-medical cosmetic procedures.

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Improved training and guidance for fitness and beauty staff and a national campaign aimed at promoting good body image to young people are also touted by the advisory group.

The report also calls for more to be done to ensure social media influencers make clear which of their material is paid for by companies, in compliance with guidance from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Anxiety over body image

Group chair Julie Cameron said: "Our report highlights that an increasing number of young people are feeling stress, shame and unhappiness about their body image and that this is being influenced by many factors including advertising and social media portraying the idea of stereotypical beauty and how this leads to success and happiness.

"We believe it is possible to change this conversation and that by working together measures can be put in place to support young people and help them develop good body image, positive mental health and resilience.

"We hope the Scottish government will take swift and positive action to implement the recommendations and help create the conditions for good body image for our young people, now and in the future."

A Panelbase poll of 400 participants between the ages of 10 and 19, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, found that 20 per cent of young people in Scotland reported having been ashamed of their body.

Mental health minister Clare Haughey said: "We know from research published over the last year that body image is an issue that matters to young people.

"This was the main driver for establishing the advisory group last year – we will formally respond to these recommendations in the coming weeks."

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