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Young people, body image and food

food; eating; diet; behaviour; teenager; disorder;

The teenage years are a time when young people are developing eating and lifestyle patterns for the future. Parents play a key role in helping them develop healthy habits and routines.

Body image is strongly linked with eating habits and lifestyle. It is important for both boys and girls to develop a positive body image because feeling good about your body provides a strong foundation for good self-esteem and healthy development.

Being a teenager can change everything. As children move into the pre-teen and teenage years they go through many physical, emotional and social changes. Their brain and body go through many developmental changes. They are working out their own unique identity and what is important to them, forming peer groups and moving towards independence. These changes can affect how they feel about themselves and how they look, how they view food and what they eat.

Poor body image can put both boys and girls at risk for harmful weight management strategies, eating disorders and mental health problems.

To find out more

Have a look at the Parent Easy Guide developed by Parenting SA 

Parenting SA is a partnership between the Department for Education and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network South Australia. 


Eating disorders

Normal eating is not how much or what you eat, but your attitude towards food and eating.

Eating disorders can develop when people are intensely worried about losing control of their eating and becoming overweight. They can develop distorted thinking and feelings about food and their body, resulting in unhealthy eating and often extreme exercise habits. Eating disorders can happen in people of any age but studies show young people are more at risk. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can involve other conditions such as anxiety disorders or harmful substance use.

Eating that is not normal is not so much about what you do (eg. skipping meals, restricting food, overeating) but about the thinking behind it, how often it happens, and the feeling that you have to eat this way.

For information about eating disorders have a look at

 Reachout site. there are many topics such as

and many more topics.


Headspace https://headspace.org.au/ 

South Australia Health Statewide Eating Disorder Service

National Eating Disorders Collaboration (Australia) 

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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