An article published in Pediatrics reports that eating disorders among children are on the rise. The study showed that eating disorders for children under 12 have risen by 119 percent between 1999 and 2006, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. What is really concerning is that eating disorders used to be thought of as a problem for rich white girls, and now we are seeing that the rates of eating disorders have risen for both children in lower socioeconomic backgrounds, for all races, and for boys. Eating disorders are no longer just limited to certain people, and researchers are starting to see that there is a genetic component to these diseases.
Some of the causes that have been blamed for the rise in eating disorders among all children are pressures that are put on athletes to lose weight, such as dancers, models, performers, and wrestlers, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, and when doctors tell children that they need to lose some weight.
This report has especially concerned me because, as a parent, I have always known that my child has a big chance of having weight problems. In both my and my husband’s families, problems with weight have always existed. When talking about the healthy eating habits that we want to promote in our household for our son and future children, we have always jokingly said that if we didn’t keep an eye out on the cookie cabinet, then we were going to have some chubby children.
But now the seriousness of the situation has finally hit both of us. We realize even what seems to be an offhand comment can have a psychological effect on a child that turns into an eating disorder.
My husband and I are especially concerned because not only do weight problems run in our family, eating disorders do as well. So, our child has all the warning signs of developing an eating disorder, and all we can do as parents is promote healthy eating habits and make sure our son feels comfortable in his skin, no matter what his body looks like.
Going through both weight problems and an eating disorder as a child have made me realize that self-esteem is something that was missing from my childhood, and we plan to make it a big part of our child’s.