Eating Disorders In The News: May 2009

Will Anorexia Nervosa Receive More Funding As The Number Of Male Anorexic Increase?

People ask why I write about the painful subject of my daughter’s anorexia and eventual death. I’ve explained a few reasons in past articles, but there’s one more.

You see I just can’t stand that my loved daughter has become a statistic of the disease of anorexia. And I want people to learn, as I’m sure all moms would, that this young woman had a mom and dad, a sister, aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends and enemies, talents and shortcomings, loves and hates. In other words a life, not a perfect life, but what could have been a wonderful life. I want people to see Meg as a complex human being not a statistic. That’s why I write.

To continue, after losing over thirty lbs in her senior year of high school, Meg entered college looking great at 126 lbs. She came home for Thanksgiving weighing 114 lbs; came home for Christmas weighing 108.

During the Thanksgiving holidays, we talked to Meg about losing so much weight. But since she lost another six pounds from Thanksgiving break to her Christmas break, which amounted to a mere three weeks, she obviously hadn’t listened. I was so worried that I made an appointment with a psychologist who specialized in anorexia. Her face expressionless and her body tense with anger, Meg begrudgingly went to the appointment with me. But there was a problem. Meg turned eighteen the April before she started college: This seemingly minor detail became a major stumbling block during Meg’s seventeen year battle with anorexia.

Since Meg was eighteen, she could be seen by the doctor alone, and of course she chose to do so. And I had no legal right to stop her; at that point, I didn’t feel I should after all this was her first appointment for anorexia. Meg came to her appointment dressed in a fairly short skirt, thick tights and a long-sleeved sweatshirt. Now like me, Meg holds a good deal of her weight in her legs which were quite visible; nevertheless, her skinny arms and ribs were not. As I’ve said before, Meg was smart, smarter than I realized. The camouflage dressing trick went unnoticed by me for a while. In addition, Meg always portrayed herself, to others, as a capable young woman who has no problems except a mother who worries. After her appointment, the doctor said he really didn’t think we should be concerned about Meg. He informed me that many college freshmen either gain or lose weight while adjusting to their new lives. Obviously, the psychologist was deceived by her dress and her confident manner. So much for catching anorexia early.

Looking back, this is another example of the “insightful” advice we received from the medical profession about Meg’s overweight and underweight conditions.

Read in full here.


Help For Those Struggling With Eating Disorders

While many individuals struggle with trying to lose weight, others have a difficult time trying to gain weight.

Whether someone seeks to recover from an eating disorder, manage a long-term illness (such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, an autoimmune disorder or food sensitivities/allergies), needs to gain weight for sport or simply aims to try to gain a healthy body weight, healthy weight gain can often present many challenges.

For one, an individual may not wish to gain weight, but needs to do so for health reasons. Perhaps this is someone with an eating disorder. If the individual is a minor, a parent is often the one seeking out healthful ways to encourage his or her child's weight gain at an appropriate rate. In these situations, it is imperative to work with a team of health professionals who specialize in eating disorders, including a physician, psychotherapist, dietitian and perhaps a psychiatrist as well. In this way, the parents do not become the "food police," interrogating children at every meal and snack, nor do they choose unhealthy ways to gain weight (such as forcing unhealthful foods into a child's diet). Additionally, the team can address underlying concerns and focus on whole body recovery, rather than just the weight restoration.

Another reason someone may be struggling with gaining weight is simply a side effect of having an illness. This can happen with Alzheimer's, where an individual forgets to eat or forgets how to eat, or cancer, where the body's reserves are being depleted at an accelerated rate.

Men, as well as women, can struggle with putting on weight, while trying to achieve high muscle mass for sport. With intense exercise, it is essential to consume enough calories to not only avoid unwanted weight loss, but also to achieve healthy lean muscle mass. Working with a dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition is helpful in this situation.

Read in full here.


New Nonprofit Organization Targets Binge Eaters

These days, stress causes Chevese Turner to reach for a handful of potato chips and then feel disgusted.

But nearly a decade ago, difficult times would send her to finish off an entire bag of potato chips, or even go to McDonald's and eat several sandwiches.

That was before she was diagnosed as a binge eater. Now the Severna Park resident has created a nonprofit organization aimed at helping people with illnesses like hers.

Turner said she hopes her new organization, Binge Eating Disorder Association, will help other sufferers realize help is available. The group is planning a conference in June that will feature panel discussions and workshops about the disorder, and its Web site - - provides links to resources, assistance and information about binge eating.

Turner's struggles with the illness also were recently featured in a "Good Morning America" segment on eating disorders.

"I still have my moments," Turner said. "It's a longterm thing. It's not something that changes overnight. I've done a lot of work and now I'm at a place where I manage my food intake."

Read in full here.


Plans To Ban Internet Sites That Promote Diet Disease Anorexia

WEBSITES that promote anorexia are facing a campaign to outlaw them.

MSPs want the UK Government to introduce laws that fine or jail owners of sites promoting self-harm.

There are around 500 "pro-ana" websites promoting the eating disorder which kills up to one in 10 sufferers.

Many show disturbing images of anorexics and offer tips on vomiting and using laxatives to lose weight.

Tv presenter Fearne Cotton is furious at the sites after one portrayed her as a role model.

The SNP's Kenneth Gibson, backed in a Scottish Parliament motion by fellow MSPs, called on Westminster to crack down on the websites.

More than 80,000 people in Scotland are estimated to suffer from anorexia.

Gibson said: "I am deeply concerned about sites that portray anorexia as a glamorous lifestyle choice rather than potentially fatal with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.

"Messages on these sites fiercely defend weight loss as an act of self-control to be admired.

Read in full here.


Learning To Love Every Inch Of Your Body

Food and weight issues for young girls and women have long been a battle to conquer.

But a researcher and author who specializes in body image says boys and men are joining the ranks of the body obsessed.

'I'm, Like, So Fat!, author Dianne Neumark-Sztainer shared this insight with an audience of parents, teens and professionals last week a workshop entitled: Eating in a Weight-Obsessed World: Helping your child have a healthy body image and healthy weight.

Hosted by the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) in Toronto, Neumark-Sztainer covered a multitude of topics affecting our youth with the goal of helping them to achieve healthy bodies and body images.

With a society placing emphasis on being thin as the ideal, it can be a difficult task, but initially she said parents have to identify their child has a weight or body image issue, decide how to bring it up to them and address the potential problem.

"It's important to bring up the problem when both you and your child are not upset," she said. "Tell them what you've noticed, for example, 'I heard you vomiting' and I'm concerned.'"

Once you've done this, Neumark-Sztainer said you will get a mixed reaction of "relief, anger and fear," but at least now there's a dialogue and an opportunity to seek help.

There are many factors contributing to weight and body image issues, many of which come from society. Media, like television and magazines, and movies and music videos, are filled with thin people, but in food ads, portion sizes are huge, which sends mixed-messages.

"Not only are models' pictures being modified, but so are food advertisements so they look bigger than they really are so they look better," she said.

Read in full here.


Parent's Plea: Send Charlotte Home

THE parents of the jailed Swedish woman Charlotte Lindstrom have spoken out for the first time to beg Australian authorities to let their daughter transfer to a jail in Sweden, saying they fear her anorexia will kill her if she stays in Australia.

"We are deeply concerned and worried for our daughter's life," Anita and Hans Lindstrom told the Herald in a statement, their first since their daughter's arrest.

They said she had been treated well in jail but four Australian doctors had recommended that she be transferred to Sweden, where she could be supported by her family, feel safer and avoid the stress of directly facing her former fiance in court.

Lindstrom, 24, is in solitary confinement in a NSW prison due to threats to her life. Her family says her health is so fragile that she could suffer heart failure.

Lindstrom will be the key witness in her former fiance's drug trial, which is due to begin in a few months. The Swedish Government has offered to cover both the costs of the transfer and of a video link so she could give evidence from Sweden.

But NSW authorities say the testimony - which could take 15 days - is essential to the prosecution case and could be inadequate if given via video link from Sweden.

Read in full here.

sources linked above.