More than half Australian teenagers are worried about their weight but many say they would rather suffer in silence than open up about their concerns, research suggests.
Three-quarters of parents questioned in the same study assumed their adolescent child would talk to them about weight fears.
The research by the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line surveyed more than 1000 teens and parents across the country about their thoughts on weight and was released as part of Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
The results showed 52 per cent of teenagers were worried they were either losing their battle with the bulge or that they were underweight. But one in 10 of the teenagers indicated they would choose not to speak of their concerns.
One in five parents were also worried about their child's weight but remained largely unaware of the reluctance of some teenagers to come forward with their concerns.
The research showed that once teens hit 18 their worries about weight got worse, with 26 per cent of 18 to 19-year-olds concerned about how their bodies measured up to those of celebrities, as opposed to just 4 per cent of 13 to 17-year-olds.
Those aged 18 and older were significantly less likely to approach their parents for advice but more likely to seek advice from a doctor, a medical centre or phone service.
University of WA associate professor of psychology Susan Byrne said body image was consistently the main concern for Australian teens.She said it was important to address such concerns early in adolescence before they became worse, with only one-third of those who end up with a clinically significant eating disorder ever going for treatment. "We only treat the tip of the iceberg," she said.