- Record levels of educational achievement among young
people have done nothing to help them to feel good about themselves, research
published today shows.
- Figures from the Office for National Statistics show
a significant rise in the proportion of students achieving two or more
A levels or the equivalent. The proportion of women who had achieved this
level has doubled since the 1970s to 25 per cent. The rise for men has
been more modest with a rise of just over half to 21 per cent over the
- The study, Social Focus On Young People, shows that in
1999 and 2000, 24-year-olds with degrees were paid about £100 a week
more than those with GCSE grade C.
- However, the study also reveals a deep and growing sense
of insecurity among young people, particularly concerning their appearance.
- Large numbers of young women regularly attempt to lose
weight even though they are not too heavy, indicating the enormous pressure
many feel to be unhealthily thin.
- The study suggests that the mismatch is a result of "peer
group pressure" playing havoc with women's perception of their self-image
- 20 per cent of females aged between 16 and 24 whose weight was within
the "desirable" range for their height and build thought that
they were overweight. The same rate for young men was just 2 per cent.
- The report also showed that this self-consciousness increases
with age. Two in five women aged from 20 to 24 think that they are too
fat compared with one in five girls aged from 13 to 15.
- A proportion of males worry about appearing too puny.
The report shows that 28 per cent of young men aged 16 to 19 are trying
to gain weight at any one time, even though only 18 per cent think that
they are too light.
- Publication of the figures follows attempts by the Government
last week to discourage the media from using images of ultra-thin models
and to help young people to develop a more healthy body image.
- The report also demonstrates an increase in ill health
among young people, due principally to a rise in diseases such as asthma.
- Twenty per cent of people aged from 13 to 24 reported
a long-standing illness in 1998-99 compared with just 12 per cent of the
same age group in 1975.
- Cases of meningitis and septicaemia have increased five-fold
over the past 20 years. The study said that this may be due to greater
awareness of the diseases rather than a rise in the incidence of infection.
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