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Education: Body Image

Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the effect of an individual's body image on their academic achievement. (139135)

The Department for Education and Skills has not made a specific assessment of the effect of an individual's body image on their academic achievement.

Body image, whether negative or positive, may be one of a number of factors that affects an individual's self esteem, and research shows that self esteem and self confidence impact on attainment.

Families, early years settings and schools can play an important role in helping young people develop confidence, self-esteem and positive emotional health. Helping children acquire good emotional health and well-being is a significant element of current Government policy, including the Personal, Social and Health Education curriculum, the National Healthy Schools Programme, the Improving Behaviour and Attendance Programme, and the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning curriculum materials.

A distorted body image is particularly prevalent among those with eating disorders. The 2001 DFES guidance, "Promoting Children's Mental Health within Early Years and Schools Settings" includes a section on eating disorders and the general principles that schools should follow in working with young people who experience eating disorders.