Multi-country study finds body image improves with age

Jake GammonHead of Omnibus, US
July 21, 2015, 3:16 PM GMT+0

The majority of adults are happy with their weight and body image, and body confidence tends to mature with age, according to a new global study from YouGov.

Based on adults surveyed across twenty-five countries, it seems that greater age brings greater body confidence. In nearly all countries surveyed there is concern that celebrity culture undermines the body image of young people.

For the US, Australia, and most of the European and Asia Pacific countries surveyed older people are significantly more likely to be happy about their body shape than those in their twenties and thirties. In the US 55% of millennials (18-34 year olds) are comfortable with their own bodies compared to 61% of those aged 55+.

The pressure to remain chic, however, seems to have taken its toll in France, which is the only European country surveyed where young people are more confident of their looks than the middle aged and older. 68% of French 18-24 year olds are happy with their looks compared to just over half (55%) of those aged 55+. For the UAE, Egypt and Mexico younger people are also more likely than older to be satisfied with their looks.

Of the twenty-five countries surveyed, Indonesians are the most positive about their body image overall, with more than three quarters (78%) claiming they are happy with their body weight and shape. Residents from Saudi Arabia (72%), Oman (70%) and Qatar (70%) are the next happiest with their body image overall.

Men in general are more positive about their weight and appearance than women. Only in Saudi Arabia are women more comfortable with their looks than the men with 74% of Saudi women claiming they are happy with the way they look compared to 70% of Saudi men. In the US only 52% of women are happy with their looks compared to 63% of US men.

Women in Hong Kong are the least body confident with only 44% claiming they are happy with their appearance compared to 55% of Hong Kong men.

Celebrity Culture

In seventeen of the twenty-five countries surveyed more than half of responders think that celebrity culture has a negative impact on young people.

The Scandinavians and British have the most negative view of the potential impact with more than three-quarters of Swedish responders (77%) and 74% of Brits believing that celebrity culture has a detrimental impact on young people’s body view; only 10% in Britain and 6% in Sweden think it might be positive.

In the US 66% think celebrity culture has a negative effect on young people.

In general the countries surveyed in the Middle East and Asia Pacific have a more positive view of the impact of celebrity culture on young people. Around a third in the UAE (34%) and Qatar (31%) think celebrity culture can have a positive effect, along with 41% in Mainland China and over one in three (34%) in Malaysia and Thailand.

For full US tables click here.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 22,140 adults worldwide*. Fieldwork was undertaken between April 28th and May 13th 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

*Adults were surveyed in the US, UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.