Government should introduce law for filtered images to tackle body image problems, MPs say

·2-min read

The government must do more to help prevent body image issues among social media users by legislating labels on filtered images, MPs have said.

MPs on the House of Common’s Health and Social Care Committee are calling on the government to take the impact of body image on mental and physical health seriously.

A new report says the government is “not doing enough to understand the scale of the risks” linked to body image dissatisfaction.

Recommendations made in the report include introducing a law that will legally require “commercial images” that feature bodies that have been doctored in any way to carry a logo letting viewers know they have been digitally altered.

Such alterations include changing body proportions or skin tone in the image.

MPs also called for action to reduce the “conveyor belt” approach to non-surgical cosmetic procedures like Botox or chemical peels.

They recommended bringing forward a licensing regime for providers that should include minimum training standards for those providing these services and a “cooling off” period between consent and procedure going ahead.

The group added that dermal fillers should be made prescription-only substances, in line with Botox.

Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the committee and former health secretary, said: “The government must act urgently to end the situation where anyone can carry out non-surgical cosmetic procedures, regardless of training or qualifications.

“We heard of some distressing experiences - a conveyor belt approach with procedures carried out with no questions asked, procedures that have gone wrong, the use of filthy premises.

“It was clear throughout our inquiry that some groups are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in this growing market that has gone largely unregulated.”

He continued: “We need a timetable now for a licensing regime with patient safety at its centre to reduce those risks.

“We hope that ministers will listen to our recommendations and set about creating the safety standards that anyone seeking treatment has a right to expect.”

MPs also called for more to be done to tackle obesity and help prevent children from developing body image issues in early life.

The report urged the government to restrict multibuy deals for food and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar.

The growing use of anabolic steroids, which are synthetic variations of testosterone, for cosmetic purposes should be reviewed, the report added, proposing a safety campaign for those at risk.

Additional reporting by PA

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