New statistics say girls as young as 6 want to be thinner
In light of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, the National Eating Disorders Association released statistics on Monday that show just how young children are when body image issues begin to develop.
Girls as young as 6 years old report a desire to be skinny, with 42 percent of first through third grade females wanting to be thinner than they are.
"To be honest, I was a little surprised," said Kimble Richardson, a licensed mental health counselor from St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital. "Even mental health professionals need to be made aware that this is a trend, not in the right direction."
Among other disturbing statistics, 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat, and hospitalizations for eating disorder-related complications are up 119 percent for children under 12 in the past 10 years.
"That's the most disturbing statistic to me," Richardson said of the hospitalizations. "Because you have to get in a pretty bad way to be hospitalized for that issue."
Richardson notes that body image issues start with the parents, and that, while children may not realize they are idealizing unhealthy standards for body perfection, the messages are "insidious" and can infiltrate a child's life in "covert" ways.
"Kids do copy their idols, and if a parent has an issue with their own self-esteem, with their own body image, that's tough to hide," Richardson said. "And kids are smart, and they pick up on that. And again, it's an unspoken, sometimes unspoken message."
Source: RTV6, The Indy Channel