PHOENIX - The eating disorder anorexia strikes adolescent girls in disproportionate numbers. But boys get it too, and it kills about 10 percent of those who have it. So it may be surprising that there have been few evaluations of effective treatment.
Adolescent-Focused Individual Therapy -- or AFT -- focuses on the patient's self-image and relationship with food.
Family-Based Treatment -- or FBT-- encourages parents to be involved in weight gain and promotes family harmony.
In the study, 121 adolescent patients were given one or the other treatment for a period of 12 months. Full remission rates were equal for both groups.
But one year later, patients who had *family* based treatment were doing better than the individual-based group. Only 10 percent of FBT patients had relapsed compared to 40 percent of the AFT patients.
The results suggest that treating anorexia is a family matter.
Dr. Julie Anne' , a licensed clinical Psychologist and Eating Disorder Specialist and the Owner of "A New Beginning" , an Arizona-based treatment center specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, says it's critical that parents let children know they love them unconditionally and that they don't alter that behavior because their child has gained weight.
Weight gain is common with puberty. It's important for parents to educate their children on the nutritional value of food, helping them understand healthy food helps your inner body function well.
The family is a powerful and significant influence, whether or not focusing on treatment or prevention. Parents can direct their children toward more emotionally healthy behaviors.
The best "treatment" for eating disorders is prevention. Parents can have a positive influence as to whether or not their children develop an eating disorder.
How to prevent the epidemic spread of eating disorders, one family at a time:
1. Look at what you yourself are modeling. What is your relationship with food? And your body?
2. It's not just about what you say directly to you children, but what they hear you saying about yourself.
3. Incorporate a healthy, non-dieting approach to food.
-- Teach your kids that all foods in moderation are good.
-- Let go of the "Good food /Bad food" dieting mentality. Focus on food as nutritious, not as caloric/fat focused.
4. Build self-esteem and confidence based on multiple traits, not just looks. ( i.e. You're a good athlete, you're smart, you're a good friend)
5. Build a family culture based on internal attributes, not focused on outer appearance, weight, body, etc.
6. Unconditionally accept yourself and your child, regardless of outer appearance, weight, etc.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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