Youngsters are increasingly worried about their body image, with one in three rating it among their biggest concerns.
The Mission Australia survey found a sharp rise in 11-to-24-year-olds turning to the internet to get advice about personal problems.
Researchers said there was growing obsession with body image among youngsters, which should ring alarm bells in the wider community.
The popular media is saturated with images of what young people are meant to look like, Research director Tony Stevenson said.
''When young people feel that they are not meeting that standard, it can lead to a lowering of self-esteem and eating disorders,'' he said, adding it had a very negative effect on the development of young people.
Overall, 32.2 per cent of young people rated body image as a significant concern, up about four per cent on the previous year.
Among males, 27.9 per cent were worried about their looks.
Moreover, the anxiety about body image no longer diminishes as teenagers move into their 20s, the result stated.
One of the survey respondents, Harriet Sutherland, said self-esteem of many girls appeared to be linked to their dress size.
''Fashion has a lot to do with it. The models in the magazines are stick thin,''she said.
While some girls competed to be the thinnest, boys rated each other on how muscular they were.
In other findings, the Mission Australia study identified family conflict and coping with stress as key problems for young people.
The environment was another important issue for one in four young people surveyed, with suicide, bullying and physical abuse also high on their list of concerns.