An international study (conducted by the Children's Society) analysing the ‘happiness’ of 16000 children between the ages of 10 and 13, across 11 countries, have recently published their findings.
The countries involved in the study (Algeria , Brazil, Chile, England, Israel, Romania, Spain, South Africa, South Korea , Uganda and USA) varied greatly e.g. social and economical factors.
With the UK being one of the most developed and affluent countries in the study, one might assume that, when compared with the other countries, the UK would rank highly.
Surprisingly this was not the case. When it comes to the happiness index (scale of 1..10) focussing on prepubescent children, England was only able to attain 9th place, out of a possible 11.
Why are England’s children unhappy? Looking at the research findings a little more closely the following became clear.
English children were less concerned about social and economical issues than children from other countries, particularly the poorer ones. However, this fact was not enough to significantly elevate their overall level of happiness.
Notably, body image was one of the main issues that adversely affected the UK’s happiness score and it was cited by 1 in 7 UK children. Girls were twice as concerned about their bodies as boys; 18% versus 9 % respectively. Unfortunately, body image problem worsens as children get older; 17% 12-13 year olds compared with 9% of 10-11 year olds.
“When I feel fat I tend to either hide myself or not go out”, said a 13-year-old girl who took part in the study. “I try and put on a lot of make-up on to hide behind a mask.”
The study stated: “This is the aspect of life where children in the UK fare particularly poorly in comparison with a sample of other countries.
“It is also notable that the gender gap in satisfaction with this aspect of life is only evident in some countries, indicating that we should not accept that it is inevitable that girls will have significantly lower satisfaction with their appearance than boys”.
“I think the above statement is highly significant”, said Julie Court (My Body Beautiful’s founder). “It points to the fact that something in the UK’s society, culture, media etc. is creating and/or exacerbating body image issues in a way that affects females more than males".