This week we reported more than 170 people had been referred to Tauranga Hospital during the last five and a half years for treatment relating to an eating disorder.

Sadly, that's far fewer than I expected which makes me wonder how many people are struggling through life with an eating disorder and no one to help them through it.

Obesity is at epidemic levels in New Zealand and it is important to maintain a healthy weight but going to the other extreme is just as unhealthy.

Unfortunately the media is largely to blame for many body image issues. Stick-thin models and perfectly proportioned movie stars are held up as the ideal but those most vulnerable often don't consider what goes into looking that way.

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Read more: Nearly 200 treated for eating disorders

Image is key for many celebrities so they spend hours every day working out with personal trainers and getting advice from nutritionists. It's basically part of their job.

Working out and eating well is the best way to get in shape but for many of us the cost and time required makes it difficult.

Worse still is that most photos and videos these days are manipulated and edited to make stars look impossibly perfect. Blemishes are removed, waistlines shrunk, busts enhanced. If celebrities who spend hours working out need touching up, how much more do you and I?

Sadly, many of us still strive for the impossibly perfect image, and some people sacrifice their health to do so.

Good Talks director Rachel Hansen, who teaches workshops about how to love and trust your body, said there had been a big increase in focus on appearance among teenagers today thanks to the rise of social media.

You can hardly go a day now without seeing someone taking a selfie.

 Kim Kardashian's selfie book. Photo/file
Kim Kardashian's selfie book. Photo/file

Ms Hansen said teenagers often spent a lot of time editing those selfies before posting them. It's a sad state of affairs.

People are far too quick to judge based on appearance. It's no wonder so many people have body image issues.

We need to encourage each other to live a healthy lifestyle rather than strive for that impossibly perfect body.

Everyone is different and that's what makes our world so great.