Girls starving for model bodies

1st March 1996 at 00:00
Schoolgirls as young as eight are dieting to the point of starvation because they want to grow up to be super-models, according to health researchers.

At one primary school in the state of New South Wales the researchers discovered a number of girls aged eight to nine years who refused to eat either at home or at school. One pupil had hardly eaten any meals at school for the past six months.

Reporting on a national study the researchers - from the NSW health department - said children who deprived themselves of food became lethargic and were unable to concentrate during class or participate in sport.

The study revealed the need for a new focus on how children perceived the perfect body. While teachers tended to concentrate on good nutrition and a proper diet, the full extent of eating problems among students such as anorexia and bulimia, as well as body image, went unrecognised.

Young Australians were constantly being presented with images of fashion models on television and in teenage magazines and many believed that being beautiful was synonymous being thin.

Parents were warned that they should be careful with the messages they conveyed to children about growth and body shape. "Some girls could not care less if a friend makes a critical remark about their body, whereas others reacted with unwise dieting," one of the researchers said.

As a result of the study, the NSW department of education is to introduce a new programme to teach all primary school children about eating disorders and the significance of body image.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now