Stricter ads ‘could improve young people’s body image’

The Healthy Body Image for Children and Young People Advisory Group made a number of recommendations.

Stricter ads ‘could improve young people’s body image’

A new report has called on advertising regulations to be bolstered in a bid to improve the body image of young people.

The work, published by the Healthy Body Image for Children and Young People Advisory Group, made a number of recommendations to improve the mental health of young people.

Commissioned by the Scottish Government last year to undertake the review following findings from the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, the report calls for stricter regulations on advertising aimed at young people and tighter restrictions on non-medical cosmetic procedures.

Improved training and guidance for fitness and beauty staff and a national campaign aimed at promoting good body image to young people were also touted by the advisory group.

The report also takes aim at social media, calling for more to be done to ensure so-called “influencers” make clear which of their material is paid for by companies, in compliance with guidance from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Julie Cameron, the co-chairwoman of the advisory group, said: “Our report highlights that an increasing number of young people are feeling stress, shame and unhappiness about their body image and that this is being influenced by many factors including advertising and social media portraying the idea of stereotypical beauty and how this leads to success and happiness.

“We believe it is possible to change this conversation and that by working together measures can be put in place to support young people and help them develop good body image, positive mental health and resilience.

“We hope the Scottish Government will take swift and positive action to implement the recommendations and help create the conditions for good body image for our young people, now and in the future.”

A Panelbase poll of 400 participants between the ages of ten and 19, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, found 20% of young people in Scotland reported having been ashamed of their body.

Responding to the report, mental health minister Clare Haughey said: “I would like to thank the members of the Body Image Advisory Group and all those who have been involved in the development of this report and providing us with detailed recommendations about how we can improve children and young people’s body image in Scotland.

“We know from research published over the last year that body image is an issue that matters to young people.

“This was the main driver for establishing the advisory group last year – we will formally respond to these recommendations in the coming weeks.

“We all have body image and our aspiration is for everyone to have good body image.

“This report provides us with the next steps to ensure that this can be achieved.”

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