The Fitness Zone
In a survey of 93,600 children last year the UK Schools Health Education Unit found that many British school children want to lose weight and an alarming number are skipping meals.
More than two-thirds of school-girls aged 14 to 15 wanted to lose weight, as did more than half of 12 to 13-year-olds. While it might not be surprising to find teenage girls wanting to look slimmer given current peer and media pressure, a disturbing one-third of 10 and 11-year-olds also wanted to shed kilos.
The survey found that boys were not as weight-focused as girls. Nonetheless, almost one-third of 14 to 15-year-olds wanted to lose weight while 14% wanted to put weight on.
Another alarming finding was that one in six girls, and one in ten boys, skipped breakfast.
A nutritionist with the Children's Food Trust, Laura Sharp, said these were worrying results given that research shows a clear link between breakfast and academic performance. It was also a concern, she said, that children were skipping meals at a time when their growing bodies needed good nutrition.
Personal trainers have a role to play in reversing this negative attitude to nutrition and weight. It is important that children know that nutritious food and a healthy body weight are important for health reasons. The study highlights some of the negative associations that young people have about their bodies and shows that young people should be encouraged to view their bodies as a source of self-esteem, not self-criticism.