Monday, 24 February 2014

It's Eating Disorders Awareness Week - so let's have some evidence-based facts, please.

It's Eating Disorders Awareness Week. So the media have dragged in various 'experts' to spout their stuff about what 'causes' eating disorders and how they might be prevented. It's a shame that, in some instances, these 'experts' aren't better informed. Indeed my network of parents (from the F.E.A.S.T. community) seem to know more about the ins and outs of eating disorders than they do.

First there's the article on (pointed out by Laura Collins) about the role parents apparently play in causing and potentially preventing eating disorders. "Parents," the article says, "lead by example" and "need to be mindful of how they eat, their relationship with their own bodies, and the potential impact on their kids".

And, sigh..., it doesn't take the article long to point the finger at mothers and how a mother's "attitude regarding body image significantly influences how children view themselves". But all is not lost because their eating disorders expert kindly provides some "constructive support and suggestions describing how parents can help promote a positive body image in teens and children". And so on. Laura's blog talks about it better than I can.

Then there's The Times newspaper which, annoyingly, I don't have a copy of - and it's a subscription-only website. What I do have, however, is Young Minds' sensible response to The Times' claims that "A silent epidemic of anorexia is sweeping through the country’s top independent schools, affecting thousands of teenage girls".

Firstly, eating disorders can strike anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, race or sociodemographic group. Thus there is as much chance of a student at a state school developing an eating disorder as there is at an independent school. Likewise, some schools 'get' eating disorders and offer excellent support and some don't: state and independent.

On a personal level, my son Ben was educated privately. His school 'gets' eating disorders and the support we received from the staff - from the teachers and medical staff through to the headmaster and management team - was amazing. Would he have received the same support at a state school? Possibly. Possibly not. Who can say? The same goes for if we'd chosen another independent school - or even educated him at home.

And secondly, of course, it's not just "teenage girls" that get eating disorders. BOYS GET EATING DISORDERS, TOO!

I am hoping I won't come across any other 'experts' digging up long-obsolete 'facts' about eating disorders this week - or ever.

This is Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2014, not 1974.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Bev! It's so disheartening when even the team caring for your child don't seem to be as up to date in their thinking as they should be.