Healthy Body Image for Children and Young People Advisory Group minutes: January 2020

Minutes from the sixth meeting of the Advisory Group on 15 January 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Julie Cameron (Co-Chair) 
  • Katie Reid (Co-Chair) 
  • Rachel Thomson  
  • Nicoletta Primo (on behalf of Carolyn Fox MacKay)                                         
  • Petya Eckler 
  • Fiona Duffy 
  • Helen Sharpe 
  • Frances Duffy
  • Simita Kumar
  • Fariha Thomas


  • Helen Forrest
  • Leanne Ferries

Secretariat and policy officials from the Scottish Government were also present.


Items and actions

10:00 – Welcome and clearance of minutes

The Chairs welcomed everyone to the sixth meeting of the advisory group. 

The group agreed meeting five’s minutes. 


Julie to share Shine presentation at the end of January. 

10:15 – Diet and obesity policy officials from the Scottish Government

Diet and obesity officials discussed with members about the links between body image and diet and obesity policy. They explained that levels of obesity have remained relatively the same over the past decade with two thirds of adults having an unhealthy weight and 1 in 4 children who start school having a risk of being overweight. They highlighted that those who lived in deprived areas are more likely to be overweight due to high levels of marketing and rates of fast food outlets in these areas. However, they stated that it was important not to stigmatise people and be aware of the language that we use when we discuss weight. 

The group discussed how this linked with weight stigma and how policy development was focused on this message rather than simply about reducing obesity. Members of the advisory group commented that it was important to focus on how people feel rather than their weight and whether it was actually useful to have discussions about weight. The group commented that what was key was the language that people use, especially parents, carers and teachers involved in children and young people’s lives.

11:00 – Quentin Wallace and Charlie MacKenzie-Nash from LGBT Youth Scotland

Quentin and Charlie discussed how body image affects the LGBT+ community and shared their lived experience. They provided the group with some statistics linking body image and mental health: 56% of LGBT+ children and young people felt depressed due to body image concerns compared with a third of heterosexual children and young people. 

They mentioned that being unhappy with your body was almost part of the trans community and that within this community people needed to conform to a certain body image which was very limiting and caused body image concerns. However, it was important to point out that the LGBT community can allow people to accept who they are and what they look like. It was agreed that to have a healthy body image was not about conforming to a specific body ideal but to be yourself without facing stigma. They pointed out that this wasn’t confined only to the LGBT+ community but was a message that relates to everyone.

11:45 – Con Lafferty to Discuss Body Image and Men’s Health

Con presented to the Group about the NHS Lothian Steroid Clinic and the links between image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs) usage and body image concerns. Con outlined to the group that the reason the clinic was initially set up was to provide men who take IPEDs with information and to receive blood tests. Users of IPEDs tended not to attend general drug injection clinics as they felt that that their use of drugs was different from those attending these clinics. He advised that around 22% of those injecting drugs are taking IPEDs. Con explained that the main reason why men inject IPEDs was due to feeling unhappy with their bodies, such as feeling too small, or skinny, in addition men would take them due to loss of sex drive. Con advised the group that the mental health reasons for taking IPEDs has overtaken any other reason for using IPEDs, he explained that the majority of men who attend the clinic have body dysmorphia, although they are unaware that they have this. Con outlined that 27 out of the 78 attendees in the first year of the clinic being open had body dysmorphia, with anxiety and depression. 

The group asked where the pressure came from for men to take IPEDs. Con explained that bullying and psychological trauma in early life can lead to these concerns as many of the attendees had opened up to him about this.

Con also mentioned that improving information about IPEDs is crucial as most receive information about them from friends or from online forums where information is not approved or regulated. 

12:30 - Lunch

[The afternoon session was focused on finalising the Group’s recommendations and rounding up the discussions that have been had over the past 6 months]

13:15 – Research and learning

Discussion was centred around the following key questions:

  • what does the evidence tell us around the key issues around body image for young people?
  • what are the additional issues affecting young people from equality groups?
  • is there science behind developing healthy body image? i.e. does the evidence tell us what works to foster a healthy body image?
  • where are the gaps in the group’s knowledge?

It was agreed to avoid direct correlation between weight and body image issues. 

The group discussed misrepresentation in the media as a factor for body image issues.

14:00 – Definitions

Katie presented a summary of definitions that the group has discussed over the last six months. The group agreed a final definition that would be included in the report.

14:45 – Interventions for target groups

The group split into separate small groups to discuss interventions for specific groups:

  • children and young people
  • the online world and public health
  • parental support and health professionals

In these groups members provided ideas for the final recommendations.

16:00 – Recommendations

The group discussed which recommendations would be included in the final report. 

16:30 – Close

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