What women think of their bodies

Pregnancy survey shows Brits feel better about their bodies.


By Jessica Elgot, November 10, 2011
Follow Jessica on Twitter
Nigella v Bar: Israeli women “more likely to diet when pregnant”

Nigella v Bar: Israeli women “more likely to diet when pregnant”

The stereotype paints relaxed, carefree Israeli women compared to the uptight, anxious British.

But research at the University of Leeds into the way women perceive their bodies during pregnancy has found that the opposite could be true.

Pregnant British women feel more beautiful and are less concerned about controlling their weight compared to Israeli women who continue to diet throughout pregnancy, Israeli PhD student Netalie Shloim has found.

Ms Shloim has compared the body image held by Israeli and British women, fat and skinny, and how it changes when they become pregnant. Her aim is find new ways to treat obesity and discover what effect that a mother's emotions can have on the foetus during pregnancy.

Ms Shloim said that in both the UK and Israel, self-esteem rarely got better or worse when women became pregnant.

But she said: "Israeli women who are a healthy weight still tend to restrict their eating, they are really aware of what and how much they eat. They don't allow themselves to eat as much as they want, even when they are pregnant. In the UK, women who are a healthy weight when they become pregnant don't restrict themselves.

"We can say that UK women tend to feel better about their own bodies," Ms Shloim said.

Project supervisor Marion Hetherington said: "In this country we have a Western, almost US approach to body image, compared to other European countries like France and Switzerland, where women are the most conscious of what they eat. Efforts that women go to in order to maintain a lower body weight are higher in Israel."

    Last updated: 12:12pm, November 10 2011