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Mental health foundation raises fears about impact of reality TV on young viewers

By Press Association Reporter

Reality TV, which often features an array of well-honed cast members, makes nearly a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds worry about their body image, according to a new survey.

The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is concerned about the impact TV programmes such as Love Island could have, particularly on young viewers.

Of the 4,505 people surveyed by YouGov, 24% said reality TV made them worry about their body image while 23% said they had suicidal feelings because of concerns in relation to their body image.

A further 34% said images used in advertising and promotion on social media made them worry about their body image.

Dr Antonis Kousoulis, of the MHF, said: "Millions of people enjoy Love Island for a whole range of reasons.

"Our concern is how the programme projects body images that are not diverse, largely unrealistic and presented as aspirational.

"Our research clearly shows that a large number of young people say reality TV has a negative impact on how they feel about their own bodies.

"Concern about body image is linked to anxiety, depression and feelings of shame and disgust."

He noted Love Island has issued mental health aftercare guidelines for contestants.

Dr Kousoulis said TV can play a powerful positive in improving mental health, raising awareness and tackling stigma.

He would like adverts for the likes of cosmetic surgery, weight loss products and fashion items to be pre-vetted and for there to be a non-shaming and non-discriminatory tone to the language used in the broadcast footage.