Puberty is a time of great change biologically, physically and psychologically. Teenagers are often vulnerable to societal pressures and can feel insecure and self conscious, factors that increase the risk of developing an eating disorder. Subsequently, adolescents and their peers are a key audience for communication efforts.
Research shows that adolescents are confused about eating disorders (Inspire Digital, 2010). Young people recognise that eating disorders are potentially harmful; however they also accept body ‘obsession’ and dieting as normal parts of growing up.
In order to communicate effectively with young people, the avenues taken must be appropriate to what is known about the way teenagers receive, absorb and accept information.
Messages for young people should:
- Emphasise positive behaviours for good health
- Seek to build self-esteem and self-determination
- Target perfectionism and the thin-ideal internalisation
- Include media literacy