What Message Is Being Sent?

I received this today through an email listserve that I am part of through the Academy of Eating Disorders. I felt strongly that I should share this, NOT for any political reason, but for the obvious reasons pointed out below….

Every day I become more and more alarmed by the direction of “obesity prevention” initiatives at the federal and state level. I am taking action here in MN by meeting next week with legislatures who are drafting an “obesity prevention” bill. They have actually done a good job so far in focusing their recommendations on supporting wholesome behavior versus size, but my hope is to get them to change how they are framing the bill as “obesity prevention” and instead to call it health promotion. But not all policy makers are so open to listening, and I am very concerned, for example, about the following news of Michele Obama announcing that she put her daughters on a diet when their pediatrician and father both suggested they were becoming “chubby.” The article by Laura Collins is an important response, but I believe a call to action for all ED specialists is in order. There is a real need to educate Michele Obama, as well as our new surgeon general and others that not only does worry about weight trigger eating disorders in those who are vulnerable, it routinely results in poorer choices, diminished health and weight gain for everyone else.


then read this:

What the Eating Disorder World Wants Mrs. Obama to Know

By Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, Executive Director of F.E.A.S.T.
February 1, 2010

The Huffington Post

In the eating disorders world, putting any child on a diet is not only unacceptable but appalling.

In the eating disorders world, a father referring to his child as “chubby” and commenting on her eating habits is not only frowned upon it is reviled.

In the eating disorder world a mother who felt her children were “perfect” should not be corrected by a doctor who points to the children’s weight as altering that.

In the eating disorders world it is well-known and embraced that healthy children rapidly gain weight as they approach puberty.

In the eating disorders world it is understood that dieting is an unhealthy behavior, that healthy weight is whatever one’s body ends up with when they are behaviorally and mentally healthy – a wide range of body shapes and sizes. Average weight people can be unhealthy, and non-average weight people can be healthy.

Behaviors, not weight, are appropriate health goals.

But OUTSIDE the eating disorder world none of the above is true. In fact, most people believe the opposite on every single point, and are not aware of any other way to think or that the science supports all of the above. I am sucker-punched to read that our First Family put their daughters on a “diet” because they feared “obesity” and no doubt will be lauded for it.

This is not an eating disorder issue, however, and it should not be only us who know this and speak out about it. These are medical, social, and ultimately self-defeating errors in thinking that do harm to all children and all of us. I am very sad today.

[End Laura Collins article from the Huffington Post]

Kathy Kater, LICSW, Psychotherapist

Author of: Healthy Body Image: Teaching Kids to Eat and Love Their Bodies Too!, Second Edition (2005, NEDA)

and Real Kids Come in All Sizes: Ten Essential Lessons to Build Your Child’s Body Esteem (2004, Random House)


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