It is certainly a sad commentary on the state of our culture when the number of childhood eating disorders increases rather than decreases. A recent study published in the December issue of Pediatrics reports that the number of hospitalizations of children due to eating disorders has increased dramatically over the past decade. The study states that the number of children who are hospitalized under the age of 12 due to eating disorders has increased by 119 percent between 1999 and 2006, and also there has been a dramatic rise in young men and boys who suffer from eating disorders. While it is unclear what causes these eating disorders, there are several factors that are likely to affect the occurrence of these disorders.
I myself do not have young children, but I do have family members with kids. This news is especially taxing because it proves that even if parents limit what their children see, there is still a chance of adverse side effects. Ads, television, and movies are partly to blame for the unrealistic image that is forced on children as they grow and develop, as does diet. With fatty foods being pumped into children, there is a likelihood that more and more children will become overweight, which can then in turn lead to dangerous eating disorders that a child develops in order to possibly remedy the weight issues.
Children’s peers can also be detrimental when it comes to the development of eating disorders. I think that everyone can agree that children have no qualms about pointing out flaws, and this can lead children to develop disorders as well. The study is disturbing also in that it shows children are functioning on a nearly adult level. Many children would not develop an eating disorder if they were being exposed to age-appropriate things and if they were an average child with average skills and knowledge. With children being exposed to adult content, they become more likely to function on a more adult level, which may lead to the development of disorders.
I know that when I have children, I will want to know that they are safe and are being raised in a society that values them as human beings, not by what they look like. This study proves that our society is judgmental and that it no longer values the individual solely for her virtues but rather focuses on faults to a point that even children feel the need to alter themselves.
Jenifer Goodwin, Rate of Eating Disorders in Kids Keeps Rising, www. businessweek.com