Daily Mail


Children as young as three develop an awareness of different body shapes and sizes with many perceiving that bigger is better. Although only in the early stages, the Children’s Body Image Development Study shows that children aged from three to eight recognise different body images. Many children expressed the desire to be larger – associating it with the positive aspect of growing up, in the La Trobe University study, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

Almost 38 per cent of boys and 30 per cent of girls wished to be a different body shape with most wanting to be bigger, and few acknowledged that weight loss was a possible concept.

The results showed that boys were more influenced by their father’s attitude about body image than girls were about their mother’s attitude. The young participants were shown pictures of different kinds of bodies and asked about positive and negative characteristics, and what body shape they would want.

Dr Stephanie Damiano, from the School of Psychological Science, said the next part of the research would look at the attitudes of a children’s friends about their own body image ideas, and also what role the media played. ‘It’s not just about eating disorders, it’s really about body acceptance,’ she told The Herald Sun. The Children’s Body Image Development Study is recruiting five-year-olds who live in metropolitan Melbourne.