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Committee launches survey to inform inquiry into body image and mental health

The impact of body image on physical and mental health is being investigated by MPs as they launch a survey to ascertain whether someone’s body image can impact on them accessing health services.

The health and social care committee are focusing on how far people’s perception of body image can hinder access to NHS services and whether current NHS training and government messaging should be altered.

The inquiry follows a report from the Women and Equalities Committee which found that 61% of adults and 66% of children feel negative or very negative about their body image most of the time.

Jeremy Hunt, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said: “Everyone cares about how they look but sometimes worries about body image can become enormously distressing, particularly for young people.

“To support our inquiry into body image, we’re asking people to take part in a survey about how concerns about body image can affect their physical and mental health,” he added.

The survey asks questions around to what degree a person’s perception of their body image impacts negatively on their mental or physical health.

It questions whether a person’s thoughts and feelings about their body image has a negative impact on their quality of life and asks which areas of their life such as work, exercise and fitness, family relationships, romantic relationships and accessing health services have been impacted as a result of their body image.

The survey questions whether the respondent has accessed, or tried to access, health services for issues relating to body image in the past and whether the current public health messaging on obesity and its health impacts is appropriate.

As part of the inquiry, launched in December 2021, the committee will also explore the extent to which people who have negative body image are drawn to cosmetic procedure, and whether there is enough support, advice, and regulation in place to ensure patient safety.

The survey will contribute to the ongoing inquiry into the impact of body image on mental and physical health.

Jeremy Hunt concluded: “We want to hear about their experiences of accessing NHS services in relation to body image, whether people know where to go to get help, and whether they feel any stigma in seeking support for health issues relating to body image.”

Inquiry: The impact of body image on mental and physical health

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