More than a third of girls as young as 11 are adopting drastic methods like skipping meals to pursue their ideal body shape as they are increasingly troubled by their self-image, according to a new report.
According to the study conducted by the Schools Health Education Unit, the way teenage girls respond to anxiety about their appearance in a celebrity culture that places a premium on good looks is disturbing.
Of the 83,000 pupils who were interviewed for the study, almost a third of girls in Year 10 skipped breakfast, 24 percent also missed lunch the day before.
The proportion of young women skipping meals increased with age, as almost two-thirds of 14- to 15-year-olds wanted to lose weight, and adopted a series of methods in pursuit of a certain look.
Out of Year Six girls and boys who were questioned, 40 percent said that they consumed no protein "on most days", but around a quarter ate crisps, sweets or chocolate regularly.
"Popular media has a large influence on young people's body image, placing a great deal of pressure on obtaining the 'ideal' body shape," the Independent quoted Dr Laura Wyness, a senior scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation as saying.
"This often leads to young girls adopting unhealthy practices. These include smoking, skipping meals, especially breakfast, severely limiting foods perceived as fattening, such as red meat and dairy produce, which are important sources of protein, iron, zinc and calcium, and adopting very low energy, and therefore nutrient, diets," she added.