Why children going on diets leaves a bitter taste | Eva Wiseman

The alarming rise in children on diets should be a wake-up call to us all

In 2015, a poster for weight-loss products with a model in her bikini and the caption: “Are you beach body ready?” was voted the worst advert of the year. You might remember it, that poster, that summer, when we were gently radicalised on our daily commute. The company denied it was “body shaming”, saying instead its intention was to make the “nation healthier and fitter”. You can see how the confusion arose – there was a lot of it about.

2015 was also the year that a survey of adolescents revealed 60% of them exercised to lose weight (compared to 7% in 1986) and another of 10-year-old girls found 80% had been on a diet. An odd time. A moment. This was a time when burgers were “dirty”, of course, and the concept of “cheat days” had gone mainstream, and body-positive influencers were dancing in knickers all over Instagram. A moment maybe, when adults were starting to react, en masse, to decades of body shame and a diet culture that told us it was virtuous to stay thin. Were saying they refused to conform to the idea that our body weight had moral or ethical implications. But – we forgot to tell the children.

Continue reading…