Do Schools Need ED Policies?

It’s an interesting question, and not one I’ve considered before.

With the renewed interest in childhood obesity, I can’t help but wonder if some of those messages will end up damaging our kids.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is wondering the same thing. In a recent report, the AAP said, “During the past decade, the prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents has increased significantly, accompanied by an unhealthy emphasis on dieting and weight loss among children and adolescents, especially in suburban settings; increasing concerns with weight-related issues in children at progressively younger ages; growing awareness of the presence of eating disorders in males; increases in the prevalence of eating disorders among minority populations in the United States.”

In the UK, 772 were schools polled, only 40 had a specific eating disorders policy and only a handful of these policies were deemed to be effective by school staff, however majority of staff said they would welcome an effective policy. A graduate student has developed model policies for both eating disorders and self-harm which you are welcome to use (email Jodi.knightsmith@kcl.ac.uk ).

For more information on creating a school policy, as well as information on the impact of eating disorders on a student’s cognitive ability and functioning in school, how to communicate effectively with students suspected of having an eating disorder (and their parents), and tips for school psychologists, nurses and coaches, can be found in the NEDA Educators toolkit, available free to download and print, at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/information-resources/educator-toolkit.php.

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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