Surprisingly, the younger children were more likely to say they had dieted than the older ones.
Professor Pinki Sahota, the study’s lead author, said: ‘Children are exhibiting dieting behaviours which may lead to compromising the quality of the diet at a time when they need a good-quality, healthy diet, for growth and development.’
Researcher Meaghan Christian said: ‘I think this shows that children are picking up on body image problems at a younger age than ever before. It is not something you’d want six year olds to be worried about.’ She said that having a negative body image could make it harder for the children to lose weight when they are older. It may also raise their risk of anorexia.