Did you know that the rate of kids 12 and younger being hospitalized for eating disorders has risen 119 percent from 1999 to 2006? This is according to a recent study published by Journal of American Pediatrics.
This is such a scary statistic, but why is this becoming an issue for kids so young?
Caroline Miller is someone who has overcome the mental illness of eating disorders.
She wrote an autobiography called “My Name is Caroline” in 1988 and at that time was one of the first books to discuss eating disorders and put a face on the disease.
When asked why she felt eating disorders are on the rise, she said, while there is more help available 22 years later, there are also more pressures than ever coming from shows like "America's Next Top Model" to be skinny as a ticket to fame.
She added that there is a lot less activity kids do these days, with the Internet, video games and junk food, so therefore this young generation is the most obese ever.
Miller states, “The quick-fix society of gastric bypass and lunchtime peels has led to people to want everything as rapidly and easily as possible, and if they aren't going to be athletic, then they want the quick fix way of anorexia or bulimia to lose weight.”
With kids having pressure from the entertainment world showing that thinness means fame, it can lead to mix signals and potential for an eating disorder.
Caroline said we need more role models from the entertainment world to come out and talk about the issue. She said there are so few public celebrities who have fought this battle and won. The bottom-line is there are not many role models we know of that have overcome an eating disorder. To add to that, there are also a record number of middle-aged women who have eating disorders and that can be a very bad role model for their daughters.
If you suspect your child may have an eating disorder, Miller says don’t ignore the signs and don’t pretend it is going away.
She adds that each eating disorder shows different warning signs. For example, someone who may suffer from bulimia may have lots of cavities, swollen glands, mood swings, make frequent trips to the bathroom, obsession with food and loss of interest in friends and hobbies. Versus someone who maybe suffering from anorexia, some warning signs may be not eating in public, loss of weight of 15 percent or more and continues to want to restrict food.
But Caroline says there is a light to helping this illness. “One of the biggest shifts in the world of psychology is that we now can focus on what people's strengths are, as opposed to their weaknesses, and we can build on that to help people build self-efficacy.”
She also adds, “The study of emotional flourishing has also found that we are healthier, happier, have better relationships, have more curiosity, creativity, and we are more successful when we have a ratio of at least five positive comments to one negative in our environments.”
Miller says that her fifth book, called “Creating Your Best Life”, covers this philosophy.
And soon, her sixth book will hit the shelves, a sequel to her first book, published back in 1988. She says it is a follow up to her overcoming the illness of an eating disorder.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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