There will be hell to pay.
Government-approved diet plans for young girls
In adolescents who develop eating disorders, those who were labeled as "severe dieters" had an 18 times greater chance of developing an eating disorder; with moderate dieting, 5 times greater; non-dieters a 1:500 chance of developing an eating disorder.
Information courtesy ANAD
On the blog Junkfood Science, Sandy Szwarc recently wrote about a "healthy eating" program for 'tween girls deemed "overweight" or "obese". Called BodyWorks, the 'tween girls receive a book called BodyWorks 4 Teens: Eat right, move more, feel great. On the frontspiece, they quoted girls as to what a "healthy teen" was. One girl said, "Someone who is physically and mentally fit. For me, it means, rowing and playing soccer, eating fruits and vegetables, and having good friends to talk to."
Young, growing girls cannot live on fruits and vegetables alone. Maybe that's not what she meant. But there's a whole lot more to life than just fruits and vegetables.
Not on this plan, however. In order to be a "healthy teen," here is what these girls are told to eat each day: "2 cups fruits, 2 ½ cups vegetables, 3 cups fat-free or low-fat dairy, 3 ounces whole grains, 5 ½ ounces protein. Limit fats, sugars and salt."
It's a diet in any other words.
When eating out, the girls are advised to limit fried foods and order the garden salads with low-fat dressings, always pick the low-fat choices, get the smallest serving or sandwich on the menu, avoid mayonnaise and use mustard or ketchup because they have less fat, order water or fat-free/low-fat milk to drink, and “try pizza without cheese.”
Or it's information that could appear on a pro-anorexia website. Who's to tell the difference?
Dieting and loss of weight may influence the development of anorexia by turning on a gene that may influence an eating disorder. --ANAD
Girls are supposed to gain approximately 40 pounds during puberty. --ANRED
This plan (a wolf in a sheep's skin- but isn't wolf lower in fat? Oh well. If you want to lose weight, skip the meat, right?) is targeted at girls who are supposed to be gaining weight. All children are, but especially during puberty. If you don't get the proper nutrition during this age, you risk stunted growth along with the eating disorder. No one (not once!) told me that this weight gain was normal. I wound up feeling it wasn't, and felt remarkably uncomfortable in my skin. Especially since I hit my adult height and weight by about 12 or 13.
I pity the girls today.
"We have this thing that it's not really serious," said Dr. Leora Pinhas, a psychiatric director for the eating disorders program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. "But one in 10 will die. We need to act like it's a serious illness." --"Youth eating disorders as bad as cancer, conference told," The Star-Phoenix
Genetics load the gun. Environment pulls the trigger.
Yes, I do pay attention to the anorexic model issue, but it doesn't worry me nearly as much as the phobia surrounding fat and obesity. It's hitting more and more people, at younger and younger ages. And even the parents and carers and other adults in these girls (and boys) lives have been fed the Kool Aid, making it even harder to find a good role model.
I was lucky. I don't think anyone in my house ever dieted. My mom said she was on a diet (Atkins) once, for a week, when it first came out. But then she decided that she "really didn't like meat that much" and left it there. My dad doesn't think dinner is complete without a cookie (and really, who can fault the man?). Yet still, I developed anorexia.
Do I blame the culture? No. But there's a difference between blame and holding things accountable. And looking at them with a critical eye and wondering how we can stop this cycle.
Pinhas dismissed the attention being given to childhood obesity rates - which she says have not increased since 2003 and have not increased in any clinically significant way since the late 1990s.
The most disturbing thing about the constant news about obesity rates is it's likely fuelling eating disorders, Pinhas said.
"Dieting is the gateway to eating disorders. If you have people encouraged to diet because being fat is so bad, you're only giving them an intervention that will make them fat, or give them an eating disorder or make them feel bad about themselves."
There will be hell to pay. And our children are going to have to pay the price.
We can do better. We must.
There will be hell to pay.
- binge eating disorder
- biology of EDs
- body image
- disordered eating
- eating disorder
- Grand Theory of Eating Disorders
- narrating anorexia
- normal eating
- obesity hysteria
- weight gain
- weight loss
- Carrie Arnold
- I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.
Drop me a line!
nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote
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