Stories about: Self esteem & body image

Planet Health: How adding preventative care can subtract from healthcare costs

When a child suffers from nutrition related health problems, it can cause a good deal of emotional and financial strain on her family. Obesity-related medical conditions like diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and cholesterol often lead to pricey medications and doctor visits, and are sometimes tied to emotional issues that can be costly to treat.

On the flip side, eating disorders can have a devastating affect on a person’s health and usually take years of regular therapy to treat successfully.

Treating these conditions in a single child is expensive; when you add together the cumulative costs of treating them on national level, the numbers are astronomical. But researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have found that a fairly inexpensive health promotion initiative could reduce both obesity and bulimia nervosa in adolescents, potentially saving millions in would-be healthcare costs.

Their study, recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, shows that by adopting an educational initiative called Planet Health, five Boston area schools successfully reduced the prevalence of obesity and behaviors linked to bulimia. If these Boston schools are any indication, a nationwide adoption of the program could lead to less obesity and eating disorders on a national level, thereby saving millions in healthcare dollars usually allotted to treating these conditions.

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Children's in the news

Have you heard about the new kids’ book, “Maggie Goes on a Diet”? It’s basically a retelling of the age-old ugly ducking fable, but with a modern twist. In this reenactment, the duckling is a 14-year-old girl who goes on a diet, and with a little hard work goes from being an overweight, self-conscious kid to a star soccer player and the most popular girl in school.

The book may stress the importance of healthful eating and exercise, but many people are finding fault with the author’s emphasis on the thin = happy storyline, instead of focusing on the importance of health.

Among the critics is our own Dr. Claire, who was on New England Cable News this morning to talk about Maggie, childhood obesity and how to send kids the right message about health and weight.

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No place like home? One in four LGB teens are driven out

Tragic stories of teens being bullied and ostracized at school have been saturating media headlines. But while these tales are making news, there’s another story to be told: that of homosexual teens’ estrangement—even banishment—from their families.

According to the recent Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS), one in four teens who identify themselves as lesbian or gay are homeless, and a study in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) says that it’s more likely that these teens are being driven out of their homes by their parents. Supporting this are findings from studies of homeless youth living apart from their families. One such study shows that 73 percent of homeless gay and lesbian teens indicated that they were homeless because their parents disapproved of their sexual orientation.

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"What I wish parents knew about eating disorders…"

In the following blog, a teenager who has overcome an eating disorder reflects on what she wishes more parents knew about the condition. For more information visit Children’s Center for Young Women website, or this parent’s guide to eating disorders.

It was never about weight. I just wanted to feel like I had some control.

I never thought I was fat. In fact, I liked the way I looked before I developed an eating disorder and liked my body less and less as I continued to lose weight. What a lot of people, including my parents, didn’t understand is that an eating disorder functions as a coping mechanism for other problems in someone’s life.

As I met more people who suffered from eating disorders, I realized that many of us had something in common. Many felt some sort of loss of control in their life and had used their eating disorder as a reaction or way to deal with it. Although for some people bad body image did play a large role in what started their eating disorder, for a lot of people it was the feeling of losing control in their life that they discovered was the initial cause of their eating disorder.

People with anorexia nervosa feel like they are able to gain control through extreme dieting and strict rules around food. They control what they eat, and eventually the shape and size of their body. Although it is an unhealthy coping mechanism, the eating disorder gives them a sense of relief that there is one thing in their life they can completely control without anyone else being able to have an influence.

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