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Body image

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Published: 19 August 2020

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With the launch of the government’s ‘Better Health’ campaign, the Health and Wellbeing team continue their series looking at diet. This week, they discuss body image, what it is, how it can affect you and how you can make the move to body positivity.

“Last week, we took a look at recent public health messages around obesity. We wanted to talk about a related issue for this article - body image.

If you’ve ever thought you’re too big, small, curvy, wrinkly, or any number of other so-called ‘issues’ around what you look like, you’ve thought about your body image.

It’s a bit like a mirror. How we talk about our bodies is as much a reflection of our minds as it is about what we look like.

To put it more simply, body image combines the mental and physical ideas we have about our shape and weight.

How we feel about our bodies affects how we act and can even impact where we sit in a room - whether out in the open or in a corner trying to hide.

The reason for that is body image, self-esteem and confidence are all connected. 

We’re introduced to the idea of ‘perfect’ bodies from a young age - in advertising, magazines, film and social media. 

Even the people around us, our families and friends, influence how we talk about our bodies.

So much so that we grow up with clear expectations of ourselves and how we should look.

Recent research from the Mental Health Foundation has shown that one in five UK adults have felt shame about their body image in the last year.

People with negative body images have been known to develop eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. 

This is even more serious when you realise that such illnesses have the highest mortality rates among mental health disorders.

But there is help out there. The National Centre for Eating Disorders and Anorexia and Bulimia Care are two amazing charities that offer support.

Developing a positive image of your body is important. You have the right to feel comfortable and confident with who you are.

Stopping body-shaming, both of yourself and others, is essential. The best way to do that is to stay informed. 

Do some research on body positivity and find ways to interrupt the negative ways you think about your body.”

For more information about our series on diet and how your weight can affect the impact of COVID-19, visit the Health and Wellbeing section of the University of Sunderland in London website. 

You can book an appointment to speak with the Health and Wellbeing team on this, or any other topic, by emailing them at or give them call on 0207 531 7343.

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