Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Eating Disorders and the Obesity Epidemic: Why the Controversy?

by: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, Founder and Executive Director of Eating Disorder Hope

A controversy is brewing about how to best address the rise of overweight and obese youth in the United States while also preventing eating disorders that can inadvertently be encouraged by the very behaviors suggested to help control weight.

Some eating disorders advocates believe that emphasis on weight charts, body mass index (BMI) and culturally-influenced expectations of body type are not effective motivators for most individuals to embrace a healthy lifestyle. A general emphasis on appearance and weight control, and a preference for thinness by parents and peers can contribute to body dissatisfaction, dieting, low self-esteem and weight bias among today's youth (NEDA, 2010).

BMI, which is calculated from a person's weight and height, was first used as an international obesity measurement in the 1980's. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a BMI of 30 or greater indicates obesity. As it is, obesity is a major health risk factor for various issues, including cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Within the decade, the public became more familiar with BMI because of a government-sponsored initiative aimed at encouraging healthy eating and exercise habits. By the 1990s, the National Institutes of Health lowered the "overweight" threshold for BMI from 27.8 to 25, essentially telling 30 million Americans, who were previously considered to be a healthy weight, that they were now "overweight."....finish reading article

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