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21 March 2023

Young people can now find support online for concerns around body image, food and eating

A new website which aims to be the first port of call for young people who struggle with body image and disordered eating has been launched by ELFT, NELFT, Barnardo’s and further partners across the health and voluntary sectors.
young person looking into the camera

Be Body Positive is a new online resource aimed at people aged 11-16 years old across the UK. It has been co-created and developed by East London NHS Foundation Trust following research and insight by Barnardo’s and alongside the East London Business Alliance and the North East London NHS Foundation Trust

The website provides support and guidance to help young people nationwide overcome challenges around eating, body image, physical and mental self-care. Alongside information and resources, website visitors can take quizzes to help identify support options to suit their needs, read inspirational real-life stories and learn evidence-based strategies to help them develop healthy patterns and routines around eating. 

Sarah Wilson, Director of Children and Specialist Services at East London NHS Foundation Trust said: “In a digital world where negative and harmful views of body image can be difficult to avoid, Be Body Positive aims to carve out a nourishing and safe space. We hope young people will come to the site and learn how to feel at ease in their bodies.” 

Disordered eating is a pre-clinical diagnosis of concerning behaviour around food, including calorie counting and excessive exercise. The NHS is treating record numbers of young people for eating disorders including bulimia and anorexia, so it is hoped that Be Body Positive will provide vital early intervention for people who are struggling with diet and nutrition. 

Rukshana Kapasi, Director of Health at Barnardo’s said: “Barnardo’s is thrilled to be working with established partners to provide improved support for the ever-increasing number of young people who are impacted by disordered eating. Our experience in working with young people who have difficulties with disordered eating has directly informed this project and will help to ensure the website resonates with those who can benefit from it. 

“We hope Be Body Positive will provide vital practical and emotional support for young people to help them build better lifelong habits with food for healthy futures.”  

Be Body Positive is aimed at parents, carers, and healthcare professionals who work with young people as well as young people themselves. 

Lead clinician on for Be Body Positive, Erica Cini from ELFT said: “Helping to drive down the number of people who are diagnosed with eating disorders is a top priority for the NHS and many other organisations who help and support those affected. The Be Body Positive website is the result of collective working to think creatively about how we can offer targeted support at a time when symptoms are more malleable and less entrenched in the hope of preventing a person’s condition from escalating to clinical eating disorder diagnosis.

The website has been co-produced with young people supported by Barnardo’s who have been actively involved throughout its development, creation and testing stages. Feedback from them included that the website was inclusive, engaging, simple and clear to understand in a fun and educational way, whilst also having a clear purpose to help young people across a variety of settings. 

Ian Parkes, CEO of East London Business Alliance said: “There has been a big increase in the reports of young people struggling with wellbeing and mental health. The earlier we can get reassurance and support to them, the better the outcome. Young people are digital natives, and this new initiative will get support to them in a familiar format.”