Media coverage of eating disorders has generally improved, but unrealistic body images continue to appear. The pressures to be thin are very great, especially for girls.
The state PTA warns that between five and 10 million Americans have eating disorders, mostly teens and young adults.
Anorexia is a fear of becoming fat, coupled with an unrealistic body image that leads people to restrict severely the amount of food they eat.
Bulimia involves bingeing and purging — eating excessive amounts of food and then forcing it out.
Eating disorders all involve preoccupations with weight and food. But they are often rooted in other issues, compensating for aspects of life that appear to be out of control.
Many young people who suffer from these disorders also have feelings of inadequacy, troubled relationships, or a history of being teased because of weight.
Parents should teach children positive and healthy attitudes toward their bodies.
Media coverage of celebrity eating issues can offer a good chance to ask your children what they think.
Be sure to point out that healthy, fit bodies don’t all look the same.
Experts say parents who are worried should communicate their concerns without judgment and without oversimplifying the issue. Express support and seek professional treatment if necessary. These issues can be serious.