A Dangerous Blind Spot

As NEDAwareness week wraps up, I'd like to leave you with one last post. 

 *Note: I do plan to add other posts pertaining to this subject well after this week is over ;) 

There is a lot of attention on the current childhood obesity epidemic that seems to not only over shadow another epidemic, but fuel it altogether. 

In a CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) article from 2004, Dr. Joan M. Johnston addresses the push towards eliminating childhood obesity upon receiving a package as part of an obesity-awareness campaign for family physicians and pediatricians. 

She writes: "I am disgusted by the cavalier disregard for eating disorders exhibited in the medico-cultural war against obesity." 

This publication had ZERO mention of eating disorders. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that BED (binge eating disorder) is infact an actual eating disorder. Am I wrong? Did this phenomenon occur purely out of poorly educated choices, or is this much more complex issue than the health industry would like us to think? It is beyond ignorant to think that anyone in America who is overweight (or has a child who is) doesn't already have a plethora of information regarding the issue or, even worse, doesn't already know they are over weight. Johnston later sums up this eating disorder blind spot by stating that "For such individuals, launching a frontal assault on the symptom (obesity) instead of dealing with the underlying cause (the eating disorder) may simply catalyze the transformation of their disorder into anorexia or bulimia nervosa." 

The quick fix of caloric intake vs expenditure will have devastating results. With out addressing the person as a whole and just focusing on the numbers we set up for poorer health. It doesn't take very long before you are so far down the rabbit hole that you realize the "control" you thought you had was just a mirage (remember: most EDs are not about the food or the weight,they are much more complex than that). 

Up to 20% of those lost in wonderland will die from their eating disorder. That is a number far HIGHER than the risk of death from diabetes or heart disease related to obesity. Johnston sums up with "By adding the official voice of family physicians and pediatricians to the consumerist messages already bombarding them about diet and exercise, we will be endorsing the exploitative purveyors of these messages. We will be telling our kids that they are not okay, and we will drive many of them into the waiting arms of anorexia and bulimia." Combine that knowledge with the fact that this was in 2004 and both the health-care industry and our government's attention to this issue has increased exponentially while still having this blind spot is terrifying.

In today's Huff Post Parents an article spot lights a school who sent home "fat letters" to all students with an elevated BMI. 

Seriously, I can't even go into detail about this article because it is so maddening. PLEASE follow the link and see for yourself. BMI and I have been long-time enemies. It is purely height in relation to weight and does NOT account for muscle mas or bone structure. In another insightful article, Time Magazine's website (Time Ideas) that was published last Thursday focuses on this issue and adds some great points: "promoting healthy eating, regardless of one’s weight or age, seems like a positive thing on the surface. But here’s the potential downside: We know kids and teens react differently than adults to external pressures like persistent messaging. Sometimes these pressures can translate into incredible waves of anxiety and fear. At the extreme, a healthy-weight youth could be pushed to monitor his weight more frequently or even begin an unsupervised diet — behaviors that might represent an impending eating disorder." As someone who started out trying be healthy and wound up almost dead, I can't stress the truth in this statement enough. There is no doubt that the current level of obesity in this country is alarming and needs to be addressed, I just feel that there MUST be a better way than how we're doing it now. 

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