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'Tweens' feel pressure for perfect bodies

BOSTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Ten- and 11-year-old boys and girls feel pressured to have perfect bodies, U.S. and Canadian researchers found.

The researchers found a direct association between body satisfaction and weight in fifth graders -- part of the age group increasingly known as tweens by those in media marketing.

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The study of 4,254 Canadian schoolchildren, published in BMC Public Health, found a linear response for girls who were happiest when thinnest. However response for boys was U-shaped -- they were unhappy when they were too skinny or too fat.

Researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and Harvard University in Boston found girls in this age group who lived in rural areas were more likely to report poor body satisfaction.

The finding that girls who reside in rural areas, controlling for body mass index, are more likely to report poor body satisfaction suggests that appearance-related pressures may be higher within rural areas, or perhaps that girls in urban areas benefit from existing programs that may protect against diminishing body satisfaction, the study said.

"There is a well-established relationship between poor body satisfaction and increased risk of disordered weight control behaviors, including vomiting, fasting, and use of laxatives and diet pills for weight control," study leader Bryn Austin of Harvard University said in a statement.

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