Latest news | 28 Nov 2019

Body image concerns need national response for young Australians


 Body image concerns need national response for young Australians

For the eighth year in a row, young Australians have rated body image issues as one of the top four concerns in Mission Australia’s National Youth survey.

This year’s survey has found that at least in 1 in 4 young people have serious body image concerns, while other mental health issues such as coping with stress and school or study problems also had high ratings.

Body image was recorded as one of the top four personal concerns for 33.5 per cent of young people when it comes to their mental health. Notably higher proportions of females (42.8% compared with 14.5% of males) were extremely or very concerned about body image. Moreover, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females reported body image as the second most concerning personal issue, ahead of mental health.

The Butterfly Foundation CEO, Kevin Barrow says the results from the survey are very concerning and haven’t reduced at all.

“There are serious health ramifications if we do not challenge fundamental belief structures that are translating into nationwide body shape and size stigma. Poor body image can contribute to impaired mental and physical health, lower social functionality and poor lifestyle choices. We need to acknowledge the complexity of the problem and each play our part as individuals, it is more than achievable.”

“We also need to pay equal attention to the increase in concerns for young people when it comes to their mental health. People who are dissatisfied with their body image are at higher risk of developing serious mental illness including eating disorders,” added Barrow.

This increasing trend in young people’s levels of concern about their body image (from 26.5 per cent in 2015 to 31 per cent in 2019) highlighted year on year by Mission Australia’s annual survey, provides the strongest recognition of body image needing to be a national mental health concern. There is a compelling rationale for the need to address negative body image thinking in all ages of a child’s life, particularly before negative body image thinking takes root.

Butterfly Foundation congratulates Mission Australia for delivering the 2019 Youth Survey, providing a window into the core concerns of young Australians. It is essential we act on the findings particularly in relation to negative body image, as a national health and mental health issue for young Australians.


Media Contact: Alex Cowen
Mob: 0497 008 716

NOTE TO ALL EDITORS – Please include this help seeking advice in all media coverage.

Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues should contact Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 or

For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14

Twitter – @BFoundation

Facebook – @thebutterflyfoundation