Happy Father's Day: What Fathers Should Know About Eating Disorders

*A big Thank You to the Dads who make a positive difference in body image, self-esteem, and eating disorders in the lives of those they love, and women in general.

What Fathers and Daughters Need To Know About Eating Disorders

1) Listen to girls. Focus on what is really important--what my daughter thinks, believes, feels, dreams and does--rather than how she looks. I have a profound influence on how my daughter views herself. When I value my daughter for her true self, I give her confidence to use her talents in the world.
2) Encourage her strength and celebrate her savvy. Help my daughter learn to recognize, resist and overcome barriers. Help her develop her strengths to achieve her goals. Help her be what Girls Incorporated calls Strong, Smart and Bold!
3) Urge her to love her body & discourage dieting. Growing girls need to eat often and healthy. Dieting increases the risk of eating disorders. Advertisers spend billions to convince my daughter she doesn’t look "right." I won’t buy into it. I’ll tell my daughter that I love her for who she is, not for how she looks.
4) Respect her uniqueness. See my daughter as a whole person, capable of anything—and make sure she knows that’s how I see her. My daughter is likely to choose a life partner who acts like me and has my values. So, treat her and those she loves with respect. That will help my daughter choose someone who respects and nourishes her long after she’s left my home.

Read in full: Father's and Daughters and Eating Disorders

10 Things Every Father Should Know
  1. Our body size is a given, like our height or hair color. Yet, by middle school, 30-50 percent of American girls say they feel too fat and 20-40 percent are dieting; many beginning before age 10. By high school, 40-60 percent of girls feel overweight and try to lose weight.
  2. Young girls say that they are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of cancer, nuclear war, or losing their parents.
  3. Today, the average fashion model weighs 23 percent less than the average woman.
  4. The average age for onset of eating disorders is during adolescence. While self-esteem for both girls and boys is strong as children and drops for both in adolescence, the drop is much steeper for girls, beginning at around age of 12.
  5. In a survey of working-class 5th to 12th grade suburban girls, 69 percent reported that magazine pictures influence their idea of the perfect body shape; 47 percent reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
  6. Before puberty there is no difference in depression rates between boys and girls. By age 15, girls are twice as likely to be depressed and 10 times as likely to develop an eating disorder than their male peers. Girls are more likely to attempt suicide than boys are, but boys are more likely to succeed.
  7. Clinique Laboratories, Inc. surveyed 500 moms of teen daughters and found their number one New Year’s Resolutions was "lose weight/eat less". Yet 22% of these same mothers list the fear of their daughter developing an eating disorder among their top concerns. Only 16 percent of the 500 teens in the same survey worried about developing an eating disorder.
Read in full: 10 Things

Perfectionist Fathers Can Reinforce Tendencies Towards Anorexia, Bulimia, And Other Clinical Illnesses

Perfectionist fathers can reinforce disordered eating among college-age young people already preoccupied over their physical looks and subject to the demanding expectations of peers and media, according to a Penn State study.

A survey of 424 college students revealed that, with sons and daughters alike, the father, not the mother, is more likely to create pressures leading college-age children to indulge in erratic eating habits that in turn can lead to anorexia, bulimia and other clinical illnesses, says Dr. Michelle Miller-Day, associate professor of communication arts and sciences.

"Another finding was that food itself was not the issue with students who reported disordered eating behaviors," Miller-Day notes. "Personal perfectionism, reinforced by peer and parental expectations of perfection in combination with the allure of advertising, may cause many young people to feel that they are not in control of their own lives and bodies. Eating then becomes an area in which they DO have a sense of personal control."

Read in full: Perfectionistic Fathers

Dads, Too, Can Increase Daughters’ Risk for Eating Disorders
by Christina Elston

If you’re a dad on a diet, don’t flaunt that fact in front of your daughter. Your attitude about your weight – and hers – affects how your daughter views her body, and could even put her at risk of developing an eating disorder, according to new research.

In one of the first studies to examine the impact of fathers on whether girls develop eating disorders, Stanford University researchers found that dads who are dissatisfied with their own bodies, have a high drive for thinness and restrict their own food intake are more likely to have daughters who develop eating disorders in adolescence. Lead researcher W. Steward Agras, M.D., points out that either parent – mom or dad – who expresses concern or criticism about a daughter’s weight and shape or who pushes the daughter to diet can increase the girl’s risk of developing bulimia.

Read in full: Dads Too

Parent's Roles in Development of Eating Disorders: How Important is the Father?
By Becky Honeyman

Much of the literature that focuses on the parents' role in the development of eating disorders is focused on the mother and the mother-daughter relationship. Studies have shown conclusively that a mother's body image and eating habits are, mirrored in her daughter, and that if she is obsessed wilt her own body image, it stands likely that her daughter will be the same way both growing up and in her adult life. The father, though, is often left out of the research except for in the basic family profile. Here, we will examine the active role that the father plays in the development of eating disorders in their daughters. First, we will explore why the father's ideas and how they are expressed can lead to an eating disorder. Next, we will discuss how a daughter's feelings are transformed into symptoms of eating disorders, and finally, we will conclude with how the relationship needs to change to help daughters recover from the vice of an eating disorder.

The Ideas of the Father

Since men in our society are "encouraged to achieve but not to feel" (Maine), fathering is often a difficult task for men, especially with their daughters because the relationship requires "more intimacy then most men can handle" (Maine). Men try to bond with their daughters oftentimes with gifts or compliments, but not with interaction into their lives. Daughters look up to their fathers and want to please them, so they look around to see what makes their fathers happy and try to emulate whatever it is.

Read in full: Parent's Role: How Important Is the Father?

Eating Disorder Help/ Resources
Fathers and Daughters Org (The Dad Man)
Eating Disorders: Dictionary For Dads

picture source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/schmollmolch/3388570838/