MORE children are turning to Childline during the summer as they battle eating disorders and body image issues.

New data revealed by NSPCC found that more children struggle to cope with eating disorders and body image issues between June and September.

Around 40 per cent of all the counselling sessions - out of the 4,179 delivered - by Childline were on these topics.

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NSPCC data also found eating disorders and body image issues were the 8th most common concern for children contacting Childline in 2022 and 2023.

One boy, aged 13, told the service: “I feel so guilty every time I eat.

"I’ve been trying to be healthy and cut down on food, but it doesn’t seem to be helping.

"My older siblings are all so skinny, everyone says they’re so handsome and look like models, then there’s just me."

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Kieran Lyons, Service Head of Childline, said: “Every year, our trained counsellors speak to hundreds of children in the run-up to and during the summer holidays who are struggling with their body image or eating disorders.

“Summer can be a really tough time for anyone who is already dealing with these issues, and it also can be a time which can make others who ordinarily felt happy with their body image begin to feel negative.

Why does summer correlate with children and eating disorders?

There are many reasons for the increase in children battling eating disorders and body image issues in the summer.

For some, the prospect of wearing clothing which shows their body more can make them feel under pressure to look a certain way or the holidays changing their eating habits.

For others, spending more time online during the summer months to keep in touch with their friends and stay entertained can result in exposure to more body-negative online content. 

How can you help a loved one with an eating disorder?

· Remind them that how they look is part of who they are and that their personality, achievements and behaviour are important too.

· Images they may see on TV, magazines, on social media or online are often altered and airbrushed, so what they see isn’t always real.

· Remind them that everyone is different and not to compare themselves to anyone else. 

· To help build their confidence, encourage them to focus on a hobby they enjoy.

· Also, it may help if they write a few things they like about themselves every morning.

For help or advice, call 0800 1111 or text 121 chat on the Childline website.