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Girls aged 15 have worst body image

FIFTEEN-year-old girls are the least satisfied with their body image in Ireland.

Self-harm, plastic surgery, excessive exercise, the use of artificial enhancers and dieting supplements are all listed by young people as ways they deal with a negative body image, research has found.

An extensive study carried out by the Dail na nOg Council has shown that boys are far more confident about their body image than girls.

More than 2,000 young people were questioned for the How We See It survey.

Although a majority of all participants said that they were satisfied with their body image, almost two out of three said that they feel pressurised to look good for other people.

More than half of all those surveyed said that comparing themselves with others impacts negatively on their body image and that their body image interferes with their participation in activities such as swimming, dating and putting photographs on Facebook.

The research has also highlighted instances of excessive exercise and use of body-building supplements among some teenage boys.

The survey found that positive body image rapidly declines throughout the teenage years and negative body image is considerably more prevalent among girls than boys.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald said: "The recommendations made by the young people in the survey include the need for a positive body image campaign aimed at teenagers, and the role of schools in imparting information, incorporating body image into the mainstream curriculum, making sports more exciting and varied, having regular talks on personal development and providing healthy food options in canteens."

The most significant negative impact was found to be comparing oneself with others, followed closely by bullying, weight, media and celebrities.

A total of 66pc of girls were most negatively influenced by comparing themselves with others, while 41pc of boys were most negatively influenced by bullying.