Who’s Zoomin’ Who – Eating Disorders in Kids

January 24th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I read in the LA Times the other day that eating disorders in kids under 12 is on the increase. I used to be a pediatric dietitian at an academic health science center some years ago and understand all too well the delicate balance of cause and effect with kids’ eating around attitudes and behaviour. I have written about food in schools on March 25 and October 12. I am adamant not to rock the boat too much as it might upset the entire proverbial applecart. I really hope this new stat isn’t the result of this.

Kids are quick as whips and pick up clues on what’s going on more than we mere adults realize. Kids learn about food and eating in the various environments they exist in – home, school, daycare and the like. They learn from various interactions they immerse themselves in – whether at the family table (written about September 1) or the fast food drive thru window, the school cafeteria, the class, the internet and more.

Diets and the notion of “good food versus bad food” runs rampant on TV, in homes, in schools, in press it’s gone mad. What worries me is the mixed signals and interpretations that could sink in to kids’ young minds when they try to make sense of all of this creates confusion and sometimes problems. When I meander through the grocery store I often see confused adults trying to make sense of it all. How on earth do kids make sense of it??

I think we need to study kids perceptions around the changes of food in schools that have been made these days, for example. Have they noticed? Were they part of the change? Do they venture out of the school to seek food that’s not immediately available? What has all of this change meant to them? Are they charged to do the opposite of what was intended?? There’s so much we need to know so we work on doing what will help them.

We need to find out why the rate of eating disorders in younger kids is rising? And we need to find out fast! Because if all of our well-meaning policies are creating unintended consequences than previously planned we all need to put the brakes on and rethink our approach. It’s difficult enough to be a kid these days, let’s not add another layer of confusion into the mix.

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