I didn’t think my 9-year-old daughter was at risk for developing an eating disorder. She was not involved in any of the known “risk” sports like gymnastics, dance or ice skating. She wasn’t a child preoccupied with looks or thinness. In fact, she is kind of a tomboy, preferring sweats and t-shirts. And she did not consume a lot of pop culture.
But what I learned during our Family-Based Treatment (FBT) sessions with Dr. Melissa Freizinger at Boston Children’s Hospital, is that children who develop eating disorders often have an underlying (and possibly undiagnosed) mental health issue — commonly anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). …
When I was in 7th grade, we did a unit in English class about how to read the newspaper. We learned where the most important stories were placed (to the right) and about how the stories were written so that the most important points were covered first (before the reader lost interest).
They didn’t teach us how to figure out if the stories were true, because back then it just didn’t occur to us that anyone would publish fake news. Now, it happens all the time.
It’s not that there have never been untrue stories published. But with the rise of the Internet, where anybody can post anything — and in an age when, in the race to present new content on a 24/7 news cycle, fact-checking doesn’t always happen — the number of fake stories has skyrocketed.
As if parenting weren’t hard enough these days, parents now have a new task: to teach their children to be savvy consumers of news. This is very important; if the next generation can’t tell fact from fiction when it comes to news, the future of our country and world could be in real jeopardy.
Here are five suggestions for giving children the skills they need to navigate the new reality of news:
Schools have manned the front lines of the battle against childhood obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama has promoted low-cal lunches, fresh produce and more through the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.” Now, she hopes to ban junk food and soda marketing in schools. Are these efforts enough to turn the tide?
These healthy initiatives may not be enough to negate the impact of other unhealthy influences in students’ homes and neighborhoods, according to Tracy Richmond, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Adolescent Medicine.
“Of course, offering healthy food and promoting physical activity are good things. The question is whether these efforts are having the desired impact,” says Richmond, who published a study in January 2014 in PLOS One that sought to determine how a school’s physical activity or nutrition resources might be linked with fifth grade students’ body mass index (BMI). …
“When asked to conjure an image of a patient living with an eating disorder, I imagine many people picture a young, thin woman. This reflects two common stereotypes: that eating disorders only affect women, and that all people with eating disorders are low-weighted. In fact, clinical experience and an evolving field of research show that many males struggle with eating disorders,” says Scott Hadland, MD, MPH, fellow in Adolescent Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Similarly, parents and health care providers may see gay, lesbian and bisexual youth in terms of their sexual identities and forget that these teens may face body image and weight control issues as well.
Two recent studies published by researchers at Boston Children’s debunk these stereotypes and may change the way parents and providers think about eating disorders and risky weight control behaviors in all teens. …