Healthy Body Image for Children and Young People Advisory Group minutes: December 2019

Minutes from the fifth meeting of the Advisory Group on 11 December 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Julie Cameron (Co-Chair) 
  • Katie Reid (Co-Chair) 
  • Rachel Thomson 
  • Helen Forrest 
  • Carolyn Fox McKay                                         
  • Petya Eckler 
  • Fiona Duffy 
  • Helen Sharpe 
  • Frances Duffy
  • Fariha Thomas 
  • Leanne Ferries (by phone)

Secretariat and Policy Officials from the Scottish Government were also present.


Simita Kumar

Items and actions

13:00 - Welcome 

The Chairs welcomed everyone to the fifth meeting of the Advisory Group.

The Group agreed a change to the running order of the agenda for the meeting.

13:10 – Clearance of minutes

Minutes from Meeting Four were cleared and the Group discussed the action points outlined at the last meeting. 

The Group discussed the importance of including male voices within their work. Rachel discussed a conference she had attended which described the use of drug addiction clinics by men and the reasons for why some men used drugs to alter their appearance. It was agreed that Rachel would make contact with the presenter to hear more about this work.


  • Julie and Secretariat to produce a letter to teacher and youth work training providers requesting further information about any training that covers body image due to low response rate received by Members
  • Rachel to contact Con Lafferty regarding men’s body image concerns

13:30 – Katie to discuss her meeting with CAPS Advocacy

[CAPS is an independent advocacy organisation for people who use or have used mental health services. They provide individual and collective advocacy in East Lothian and Midlothian. They also host several experience-led projects across Lothian.]

Katie met with CAPS Advocacy to discuss body image in relation to their work. 

Katie outlined that those she had met had lived experience of eating disorders and/or body image concerns. They discussed that they felt that treatment was only offered to those who were below a certain BMI which was contradictory to how they felt about their illness. They explained that in their experience those with an eating disorder felt it was less about their weight and more about their identity and how they felt about themselves internally. So equating their illness and their recovery to their weight was unhelpful. 

When asked about the phrase “healthy body image”, it was mentioned that individuals could have a healthy body weight but feel mentally unwell, and vice versa, individuals could have an unhealthy body weight but be mentally well. Therefore weight could not be used as an indicator of whether an individual was healthy or not. 

A CAPS Advocacy member explained that there were no known groups specifically for men with eating disorders and/or body image concerns, and that groups open to everyone were predominately attended by females. This environment meant that some boys and men felt that they could not attend, or be open about how they were feeling due to not feeling comfortable or understood.

They discussed the idea of body positivity and the idea of “loving your body”. Katie explained that forcing someone to love their body when they have been ill is incredibly difficult and is not possible for some people. Also, that forcing people to try and live up to that idea is very difficult. Body neutrality can be more accessible for some due to not having to love your body but to accept it the way it is. 

Katie also discussed her visit to a BEAT Parent’s and Carer’s event. Parents said they did not realise the impact of how the language and how they speak to their children about their bodies and their weight. Katie also mentioned that they had discussed that some of the treatment options that were available to those who had been treated for an eating disorder were more helpful for the families of those in treatment rather than the individuals, as they felt that these types of treatment didn’t allow for the individual to speak as openly as they would have wanted. For example, Family Based Treatment (FBT). Fiona acknowledged this point, but assured the Group that this treatment option is one of the most effective for those diagnosed with an eating disorder. 

Lastly, Katie highlighted that CAPS Advocacy liked that the Group was covering body image in a general way instead of linking it directly with eating disorders as body image is a concern that everyone can have. 

13:45 – Discussion on Scottish Youth Parliament and Children’s Parliament Social Media Guidance Survey 

[The Scottish Youth Parliament and the Children’s Parliament shared with the Group the results of their survey which ran for 3 weeks from the 10th October 2019. The Survey asked children and young people across Scotland about how they felt about a number of questions about social media and screen time.]

Julie outlined key figures on body image, diet and the use of social media which were linked to the Group’s previous discussions. The questions asked about a range of topics and asked children and young people to outline if they would like further information and guidance on that topic. The Group discussed that it would be interesting to find out why children and young people said that they did not want any guidance on certain topics, such as body image and their use of screens. Was it that they already felt they knew enough about this topic or they weren’t interested in knowing more?

The Group discussed that some questions seemed open to interpretation and therefore some of the results may not give an accurate representation of what children and young people really think. This highlighted to the group that a definition of what body image means is important to outline to children and young people so that it is not misunderstood. 

The Group discussed the importance of meeting with both the SYP and the Children’s Parliament to discuss their work developing the Advice on Healthy Social Media and Screen Time so that they could ensure their messages work together. 

14:00 – Discussion on use of the word ‘healthy’

The Group discussed that a large proportion of organisations who the Group have engaged with have had concerns or problems with the use of the word ‘healthy’ for a number of reason. Such as the connotations that children and young people needed to feel good about their bodies when in reality this is not possible for some people and therefore this adds further pressure onto children and young people to live up to a certain expectation. Additionally, the Group discussed that for some children and young people having a ‘healthy’ body image will never be possible due to medical conditions or their disability which impacts how they view their bodies, and how society  and services view their bodies.  

Members offered alternatives including body acceptance, body neutrality, body image acceptance and body image. 

The Group agreed that their final report should outline all these terms and offer an explanation of the pros and cons of each.


  • Members to consider their preferred word choice for Meeting Six in January

14:15 – Break

14:30 – Scottish Government Officials to present about ‘Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood’ Resource and current policy relating to mental health in schools

Scottish Government Officials from the Learning Directorate presented to the group about the recently launched resource entitled ‘Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood’. The resource was created by 12 Health Boards and 5 Local Authorities with advice from Education Scotland and the Scottish Government. 

The resource can be found here

Body image was included throughout and is introduced from a young age. Introductory units about how your body is unique and how there are similarities and differences between yours and others led onto units that covered body image concerns and how this was influenced and impacted by popular culture and social media. The resource provides teachers to provide a staged approach to learning for a number of topics. 

The presenter outlined that the resource was accessible for parents as it is available online. This allowed parents to understand and be included in their child’s learning. The presenter also outlined that the resource can still be updated and changed to ensure that it is relevant, and that the developers are very open to feedback. 

The Group discussed the language and wording of some units in the resource. There were some concerns about the use of the term ‘healthy weight’. The Group agreed to look over the resource and feedback their comments. 

The Group was provided with an update on additional work that the Scottish Government is undertaking in relation to the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in schools. A brief overview of the ‘Respect for All’ anti-bullying campaign was given, along with an overview of the updated systems that schools across Scotland will use to record bullying. It was discussed that this system allows schools to monitor levels of bullying and for Local Authorities to have an overview. It was discussed that this data would only be available at Local Authority level and the Scottish Government would not have access to it. The presenter provided the categories in which bullying could be recorded, one of which was body image and physical appearance. The Group agreed that this system would provide very interesting data about what was going in schools and the key issues impacting children and young people. 

Lastly, the Group was updated about new training that will be available to schools in Scotland which included LIAM training for anxiety management and new training that will complement the Mental Health First Aid Training that has been offered to all Local Authorities in Scotland.


  • Helen S and Fiona to provide feedback to the Group on the RSHP resource
  • Secretariat to share the Scottish Government Official’s presentations with the Group

15:30 – AOB and Close

Julie asked the Group if they would be happy to meet for another meeting in late January/early February to finalise the Group’s recommendations. The Group agreed.


  • Secretariat to organise date for February meeting. 
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