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Anorexia – Dying to Be Thin
When people think of Anorexia, they usually picture a young girl who looks like a holocaust survivor, starving herself or throwing up after every meal in order to maintain her “ideal” weight. She was always a 16-year-old girl in my mind, and recently I was very surprised to be asked to train an anorexic woman in her mid-40s who weighed 32 kg. Yes, 32kg – 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 claimed that research done in 2007 in Australia showed this 18% of the girls were hungry for more than 2 days and that 11% of girls vomit to lose weight (up from 3.4% in 2000). 8% of girls smoke cigarettes to reduce appetite, up from 2.4% reported in 2000.
My heart skipped a beat when I read it. 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 you ever go to their class or your daughter brings some girlfriends over for a sleepover, watch closely because 1 in 5 of them will starve or throw up to lose weight. If some of them participate in some kind of sport, “Among female athletes, the likelihood of eating disorders has been reported to be between 15% and 62%.” And I thought that if they exercise, they can’t diet.
So I looked at anorexia statistics on other countries at http://www.nationmaster.com and Australia is only 8th in eating disorder deaths with only 8 deaths per year, compared to the United States with 218 and Japan. with 126. Germany is 3rd with 40. I realized that the problem is much, much bigger than I wanted to believe.
Look around you. A large part of the population suffers from an eating disorder. The National Eating Disorders Information Center of Canada released an alarming statistic stating that among women between the ages of 15 and 24, there are 12 times more deaths from anorexia than the annual death rate from all other causes combined.
If you are a parent and have a daughter, you are probably thinking “this is not going to happen to me”. I know you do. But eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness among teenage girls, and pretending to bury our heads in the sand won’t change that statistic.
A study of 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 figure this out when she’s a teenager,” think again. Records show that eating disorders are increasingly seen in children under the age of 10. Research in Canada in 2002 found that 37% of Canadian women at age 11, 42% at age 13, and 48% at age 15 said they needed to lose weight. By the way, 52% of them started dieting before the age of 14.
However, the issue of eating disorders is not a problem for your daughter and her friends. This also applies to their mothers. The American Psychiatric Association Task Force on Eating Disorders 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 unhappy with their size? Is it true that 70% of women diet? And what killed me was actually the National Eating Disorders Center of Canada reporting that “Survey of parents found 1 in 10 would abort baby if they knew it had a genetic tendency to be fat”. 1 in 10. That’s 10% of parents.
would you do it If parents think this way, why are we surprised that our daughters die to be thin?
Again, I’m a big believer in taking care of things before we lose control. Early detection is key. Treat any problem when it’s small and manageable and I think of the 32kg woman I went for 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 negative thoughts about food and body image are warning signs of eating disorders.
If you’re worried about your daughter’s eating habits and want to make sure she won’t be part of the above statistics, get out of it first. Take a look at yourself and notice if you have eating habits that are red flags.
- Do you have good thoughts about your weight and figure?
- Are you eating unhealthy?
- Do you eat sweets when you feel down?
- Do you think food is the enemy?
- Do you think you need to look like the models in the magazine?
- Are you in a constant battle with your weight?
Answer all of these questions and once you feel confident about your body and weight and have happy thoughts about food and health, you’re well on your way to making sure your daughter doesn’t die of weight loss and grows up safe and happy. and a healthy girl.
Happy Food Thoughts,
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