It's hard to imagine a three year old obsessed by anything other than Peppa Pig and The Wiggles, but according to a new English study, they're waaaaay beyond that these days. New research suggests that pre-schoolers are experiencing body image issues, with kids as young as four knowing how to diet. The survey of 361 childcare workers in England found that nearly a quarter of them had seen signs that children thought they were fat or ugly, with one in five children actively rejecting food they thought would make them fat. Yikes.
Sadly, these ideas about their bodies come from all sources - TV, images in books and animations, and even adult conversations about bodies, dieting and cosmetic surgery - eek. "By the age of three or four some children have already pretty much begun to make up their minds (and even hold strong views) about how bodies should look," says Dr Jacqueline Harding, an adviser to the research group. Even more depressingly, as kids move into the six to 10 age group the number of those unsatisfied with their bodies nearly doubles. No prizes for guessing what happens to that figure when they move into adolescence and adulthood.