Latest news | 15 Mar 2016

ABC ‘Naked As’ week gets under Australia’s skin


Butterfly Foundation congratulates the ABC for tackling Australia’s obsession with our bodies, a high-risk factor contributing to the growing prevalence of eating disorders in Australia today, with a million people living with these serious mental illnesses.

“Body obsession is highly dangerous, even deadly. Body obsession drives very disordered eating and obsessive exercise behaviours, contributing to increases in body dysmorphia, clinical eating disorders, and surgical interventions like lap-band surgery,” says Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan.

Butterfly is proud to promote and support the week of programming on ABC2, Triple J The Hack and ABC news platforms from 14-18th March, helping Australians to understand the complexity of body obsession, and its deadly consequences.

“As a society, we have arrived at a dangerous place – while we publicly talk about recognising and celebrating diversity, the inner monologue that we all still have is very different. In reality, we think and behave as if there is an ideal body shape that we all should have, and anything else is an aberration.

The pro-dieting, healthy weight and lifestyle campaigns that fuel the $613.6 million[1] industry in Australia are significant contributors to our body obsession and the resulting unintended damage that we are doing to ourselves. Instead of reducing the rates of obesity that account for 2 in 3 Australians[2], these rates have continued to rise over the past two decades.

“Australia needs to address the unintended consequences of our approach to weight related issues. With body obsession at an unprecedented level, it is unsurprising that 9%[3] of our population are affected by an eating disorder.”

“If you have a genetic predisposition to an eating disorder, engaging in body obsession behaviour will trigger an eating disorder – the link is clear and at the moment there is no test to tell if you are at risk. Even if you don’t develop an eating disorder, body obsession will still cause harm.”

Tackling body obsession in the current climate requires a coordinated approach that recognises the damage current health and obesity campaigns are inflicting upon Australians. A spotlight on the damage wrought by body obsession may help to stem this dangerous behaviour. Until then, we must all commit to responsible use of social media, and informing ourselves of the key warning signs of body obsessive behaviours and the early signs of an eating disorder. Find out more:

Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact Butterfly’s National Support Line on 1800 33 4673 or

[1] Estimated to be worth $613.6 million in 2015-16 by IBISWorld
[3] Lifetime prevalence of eating disorders among the Australian population – Deloitte Access Economics