Pioneering new body image qualification announced

Central YMCA's qualification could be rolled out in schools from next year.

Plans for a new Central YMCA qualification aimed at improving understanding of body image and the relationship with health and wellbeing have been announced. The proposed body image qualification has made national headlines today, with coverage on BBC News including interviews on BBC Radio 5 Live, Newsround and BBC News online.

Developed by Central YMCA’s awarding organisation YMCA Awards, the qualification will cover topics such as understanding how body image is portrayed in the media, developing confidence and self-esteem, healthy eating and physical activity and will set out to equip young people in particular with a better understanding of how their body image links closely to other health behaviours. Subject to approval from exams regulator Ofqual, the qualification will be rolled out to schools next year.

With nearly 1 in 6 young people saying they would rather be thin than healthy, the qualification has been developed to support health and wellbeing, rather than equating health with a particular body shape. 

Olympian Zoe Smith, who was subject to unwanted comments through social media welcomed the qualification and said: 

“Sports and exercise are one of the best ways of feeling good about yourself, but so many young people still feel uncomfortable about taking part, often because they are worried about what they look like. This qualification should help young people gain a better understanding of their body image and that exercise is for everyone, no matter what your body shape or size.”

The qualification is the latest in a string of educational initiatives aimed at giving young people the tools to build a more positive body image, and follows calls from charities and the APPG on Body Image to provide body image lessons in school.

Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the APPG on Body Image said: 

“We currently have a problem getting young people more active, and having a healthy relationship with food. Poor body image is part of the problem – if you don’t value your body, then why would you look after it. Initiatives such as this which support holistic health and young people should be welcomed.”

Watch the BBC newsround report.

Read the story on the BBC News website.