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The disturbing trend of teenage girls’ attitudes towards body image continues. A recent Girlfriend magazine survey of 1000 Australian teenage girls found that:

• More than 50% skipped meals;
• 45% had been on a diet;
• 25% admitted to vomiting after eating;
• And a third even removed certain food groups from their diets entirely

When you consider that the survey was amongst girls aged 13 -20 years old, the statistics paint a very bleak picture indeed. A staggering 50% of girls surveyed were aware of someone with an eating disorder and 25% admitted that they thought cosmetic surgery procedures were acceptable. Frightening!

Last year’s Melbourne Spring Fashion Week moved to introduce minimum BMIs for catwalk models in shows to ensure that healthy models were on display, but the media and fashion industries are still bombarding our girls with portrayals of unhealthy body images on the internet, television, movies and magazines. According to the Girlfriend survey results, not all blame should be laid at their feet. Many girls stated that their own Mums dieted and that they overhead their own parents making negative comments regarding looks and body image.

In light of the survey, Christine Morgan, of the Butterfly Foundation implored parents to emphasise health over appearance, to act as a positive role model, to reinforce a positive approach to food and to remember that ‘we are worth so much more than what we look like, it’s about celebrating the individual’.

Parents need to understand that although teenage girls these days are considered ‘older’ than the generation before were at their age, they are still very impressionable and need direction and guidance. We can all start by setting a good example – not use derogatory comments to describe your own or other peoples bodies, discuss the long term physical and mental consequences of cosmetic surgery, maintain an active and healthy lifestyle and eat well. Teenage girls look to their parents, particularly their Mum, as a role model and so it is so important to show them the way. Make healthy meals together, maintain a healthy lifestyle together. Go for a walk and have an open conversation as you go. If you just take the time to listen you may learn so much about your teenager.

With more and more teenage girls conducting their lives away from the home, through social media and an outside social life it is imperative that parents stay connected with their girls. Maintain open communication and keep an eye on them. Take the time to understand what is important to them and what they feel about different issues such as health and diet. Know their friends. Watch for signs that their diet or feelings about themselves is changing and if concerned, seek help. Why not bring back the traditional family meal together. Sit and talk and enjoy a healthy meal together.

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Keeping fit and healthy shouldn't be a chore. In fact, exercise should be a regular part of life just like brushing our teeth. Fitstyler helps you create healthy habits. We make it easy to look good and feel great, just by showing you simple changes you can make to what you eat and how often you exercise.

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