A load on your mind; How weight obsession can destroy lives

Poor body image can leave a destructive legacy, new findings show. Credit: PA

Young adults are being warned of the dangerous legacy obsessive worrying about their appearance can leave.

Poor body image can lead to depression, eating disorders and substance abuse, according to a new report out today.

The 14 body image experts behind the report found idealised images of men and women were leading to low self-esteem, which was a gateway to a more serious problems.

One of the woman behind the report, equalities minister Jo Swinson, said she was particularly concerned about how it could encourage body dysmorphic disorder.

The report showed there was "such a wide range of impacts" lack of body confidence can have on a young person, the heavily pregnant Lib Dem MP explained.

Everything from girls being less likely to put their hands up in class at school to steroid abuse, which again with teenage boys is something which is particularly worrying and indeed, making it more likely that people might be suffering from depression or self-harming, or indeed, abusing alcohol and drugs, or doing things like smoking to try and control weight gain.

Poor body image could hold young people back in an educational environment and prevent them from developing into successful adults, she said.

Report findings were backed up by a sufferer of body dysmorphic disorder. Lisa MacFarlane said she had been unable to wear short sleeves for "about a year" because she was so upset with her body.

DJ and presenter Lisa, who works as a double act along with her twin sister Alana, admitted the condition "really crept up" on her and before she knew it she was "wearing really baggy clothes" and refusing to leave the house.

I remember in my first session, she [therapist Lorna] told me to take my cardigan off and it was like she had asked me to walk the plank. I was so anxious! I was in the corner shaking! Now it seems totally irrational and bizarre.