Lifestyle Health

Saturday 22 July 2017

Teens with self-esteem worries are smoking to cut weight

Young people smoke to stay slim, a new study has found
Young people smoke to stay slim, a new study has found

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

MORE than one in 10 girls and one in eight boys are smoking to control their weight, according to a new survey on teenagers' body image.

And some boys also resort to excessive body-building and the use of supplements to bulk up their physiques.

The findings show 43pc of of the 10- to 21-year-olds surveyed are not happy with how they look and this lack of self-confidence is worst among 15- year-olds.

The opinions of 2,156 teenagers from Comhairle na nOg -- youth councils across the country -- were canvassed as part of the report 'How We See It: Report of a Survey on Young People's Body Image', which was overseen by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Young people are most like to be self-critical about their appearance when they compare themselves with others, while 46pc of teens, particularly boys, say bullying affects their self-image.

More than four in 10 feel conscious of their weight, while the influence of media and celebrities can also lead to poor self-esteem.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who launched the survey, said: "It is clear that for many young people concerns over body image can be a source of much stress and pressure."

The survey revealed:

- More than one in five 15-year-old girls exercised to control their weight. But 18-year-old boys were least likely to do this.

- Twice as many girls as boys said they did not take enough exercise to stay healthy.

- More boys (15pc) than girls said they took more exercise than was healthy.

- More than half of all the young people surveyed said their body image interfered with their participation in activities such as swimming, dating, and putting photographs on Facebook.

Girls are twice as likely as boys to take part in these activities. Some 85pc of the girls in the survey put time into their appearance compared with 54pc of boys.

Dissatisfaction with body image among Irish teens is high by international standards -- it is 32pc in Australia. But satisfaction with body image among Irish young people improves again after the age of 15.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including the rollout of a body awareness campaign and the expansion of personal development programmes in education.

Irish Independent

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