Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Obesity push given too much weight

Obesity push given too much weight

A NATIONAL obsession with obesity has gone too far and tipped some adolescents into developing eating disorders, says a Crows Nest psychologist.

Sarah McMahon, who specialises in eating disorders, said concern about an “obesity epidemic” had backfired.

“Children are being given maths assignments where they have to count calories,” she said.

“Education is helpful for some people but for some with certain personality characteristics, it can tip them over into a disorder.”

Her concerns are backed up by Mission Australia’s latest survey of young people aged 11 to 19 which found the leading personal concern was body image.

Eating disorder support group Butterfly Foundation chief executive officer Christine Morgan said most anti-obesity messages had a high focus on dieting.

This could lead to disordered eating including binge eating and possibly bulimia or anorexia.

She did not blame obesity education for causing eating disorders but said: “If we restrict ourselves from eating something, we can become obsessed with it and eventually will binge on it.

“We need to cut out comfort eating and listen to our body, eat to our natural appetite and then our body will go to its natural size and shape.

“You can’t buy a woman’s magazine at the moment without a diet in it, but the perfect bikini body is not achievable for most people - society needs to accept all shapes and sizes.”

Ms Morgan said some groups considered bulimia normal. “Through our work in schools we have anecdotal evidence that some young girls think bulimia is a good way to fit into a formal dress, or look good for the beach,” she said.

Former Miss Australia Caroline Pemberton, who runs a school program called Real Body Image, said many people did not realise that a model’s neck could be stretched by 15 per cent to make it look longer and more elegant.

Other photographic tricks included getting rid of red veins in the whites of the eyes, matching eye colour to font colour and removing smile wrinkles.

“I don’t think the solution is to ban Photoshop, we should just enjoy the images, much like we enjoy special effects in movies,” she said.

“I don’t think The Matrix is real and I don’t go away worried that I can’t bend like Keanu Reeves. We should enjoy the fantasy.”

MEANWHILE a young women’s program developed by Ku-ring-gai Youth Development Service (KYDS) has been named the best health promotion in NSW at the Mental Health Awards 2010.

KYDS manager David Citer said his group developed the program after noticing an increase in attempted suicide in young women in the past 20 years.

The five-week program, piloted at Chatswood High in June, discussed issues found to be most important to women, including body image, binge drinking, bullying and pressures around sex.

The program has now been taken up at Ku-ring-gai Creative Arts High School and St Ives High School and is available to private schools.

St Ives year 9 students participated in a session on body image on Wednesday.

The girls said they were constantly surrounded by images of the perfect body.

``It’s all around us, we can’t escape it,’’ one student said one. Another said: ``We are immersed in the idea of perfection.’‘

The students said the seminar was a great way to separate the myths from the facts and that they found the counsellors approachable and inclusive.

Source: North Shore Times @ http://north-shore-times.whereilive.com.au/news/story/obesity-push-given-too-much-weight/

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