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Anorexia – Dying to Be Thin
Most of the time, when people think of anorexia, they imagine a young girl who looks like a Holocaust survivor, starving herself to death or throwing up after every meal in order to maintain her “ideal” weight. In my mind, it was always a 16-year-old girl, and I was very surprised recently when I was asked to train an anorexic woman in her mid-40s who weighed 32 kg. Yes, 32 kg – less than my 12-year-old son. That’s when I realized I needed to update my perception of eating disorders. I recently opened the “Courier Mail” (Brisbane’s main newspaper) and read some alarming statistics about anorexia. The article claims that a 2007 study in Australia showed this 18% of girls starved themselves for more than 2 days and that 11% of girls vomit to lose weight (in contrast to 3.4% in 2000). 8% of girls smoke cigarettes to reduce their appetite, which is an increase compared to 2.4% recorded in 2000.
When I read this my heart skipped a beat. I have two girls, one is 18 and the other is 6, and I was worried. I hope you are worried too. If you have kids and ever go to their class, or if your daughter brings girls over for a sleepover, take a good look, because 1 in 5 of them will starve or throw up to lose weight. If some of them do some kind of sport, “Among female athletes, the probability of an eating disorder is between 15% and 62%.” And I thought that if they do sports, they can’t be on a diet.
So I looked up anorexia statistics on other countries at http://www.nationmaster.com and Australia is only 8th in the death rate as a result of eating disorders with only 8 deaths per year, as opposed to the United States with 218 and Japan with 126 .Germany is in 3rd place with 40. I realized that the problem is much, much more difficult than I wanted to believe.
Look around you. A large part of the population develops an eating disorder. The National Eating Disorders Information Center of Canada has published some alarming statistics that there are 12 times more deaths from anorexia than the annual death rate from all other causes combined for women between the ages of 15 and 24.
If you’re a parent with a daughter, you’re probably thinking “that’s not going to happen to me.” I know I am. But eating disorders are the third most common chronic disease in adolescent girls, and pretending to bury our heads in the sand won’t change that statistic.
A study in high schools in Canada found that 50% of girls dieted because they thought they were overweight. If your daughter is young and you’re thinking, “I’ll deal with that when she’s a teenager,” think again. Records show that eating disorders are increasingly seen in children as young as 10 years old. A 2002 Canadian survey found that 37% of Canadian women aged 11, 42% aged 13 and 48% aged 15 said they needed to lose weight. By the way, 52 percent of them started dieting before the age of 14.
But the issue of eating disorders is not your daughter’s and her girlfriends’ problem. This also concerns their mothers. The American Psychiatric Association’s Eating Disorders Task Force estimated in 2000 that 8% of women suffer from either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
This is something that made me look at myself. Is it true that 80% to 90% of women are dissatisfied with their size? Is it true that 70% of women are on a diet? And what killed me was the National Eating Disorders Center of Canada reporting that “A survey of parents found that 1 in 10 would abort their child if they knew they had a genetic tendency to be fat.” 1 out of 10. That’s 10% of parents.
Would you do that? If parents think like that, why are we surprised that our daughters would die of thinness?
Again, I’m a big believer in taking care of things before we lose control. Early detection is the key. You treat any problem when it’s small and manageable, and I think about the 32kg woman I went to and wonder when it started for her.
I think the reason eating disorders have gotten out of hand is because people think eating disorders are when you eat too much or don’t eat at all. In fact, all bad thoughts about food and body appearance warn of eating disorders.
If you’re worried about your daughter’s eating habits and want to make sure she doesn’t become part of the above statistics, get out of it first. Look at yourself and notice if you have eating habits that are warning signs.
- Do you have good thoughts about your weight and body?
- Do you eat junk?
- Do you eat sweets when you are depressed?
- Do you think food is the enemy?
- Do you think you need to look like a magazine model?
- Are you in a constant battle with your weight?
Answer all these questions for yourself and once you feel confident about your body and weight and have happy thoughts about food and health, you are well on your way to ensuring that your daughter will not die of thinness and will definitely grow and be happy and healthy girl.
Happy Food Thoughts,
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#Anorexia #Dying #Thin