A new study has shown the extent to which dieting and body image weighs on young minds, with Aussie teens taking drastic action to control their body shape.
The Growing Up In Australia Study found that 14 to 15 year olds harbor many negative feelings and beliefs about gaining weight, with these early problematic eating behaviours increasing the risk for later development of eating disorders.
Galina Daraganova from the Australian Institute of Family Studies spoke to the Hit Newsroom, and explained the alarming statistic that have emerged from the research.
"The good news is that eating disorders are not that common - it's less than one per cent [of the children in the age bracket] who are actually experiencing bulimia or anorexia," she said.
"However, negative feelings about weight and taking action to try to control it have been really, really common among young people at 14 or 15 years old. And it was much more common and prevalent in girls than boys - which is not unexpected."
While there is a real push to make sure that children are getting enough exercise in an age of increasing sedentary activity, Ms Daraganova said that it is important to watch how children approach exercise, and the attitudes that develop around it.
"Kids should exercise every day, but it gets a little bit scary when they are doing obsessive exercise," she said.
"For example, about two per cent of girls and boys were doing more than two hours of exercise a day, every single day. So now we're talking about the extreme here. It's the same with food - everything needs to be in moderation."
One of the most startling results of the survey was the age at which attitudes develop, and the need for earlier intervention and education on the topic.
"We saw that kids as early as 10 or 11 years old starting to think about it and take some action to lose and control their weight. So I think this is when we start thinking about prevention and intervention - much, much earlier."