I was hoping that since there hasn’t been a great deal of coverage about childhood eating disorders recently, that the numbers suffering this serious disease had dwindled.
It turns out that I was mistaken:
Doctors at the Westmead Children’s Hospital in NSW have told the ABC that child admissions for eating disorders, particularly anorexia, have tripled in the past decade.
Children as young as eight are being admitted, some of whose lives are at risk.
Like other articles on childhood anorexia, fingers are pointed to the media when it comes to metering out the blame:
The head of the hospital’s adolescent medicine department, Susan Towns, suspects the media is to blame.
“Media portrayal can affect the development of body image in young people and this can happen at a stage and an age where children and adolescents aren’t able to conceptualise things in a complex and abstract way and they can take these messages in a very concrete way,” she said.
Whilst I don’t like blaming the media for everything. I couldn’t help but reflect on the damning study conducted in Fiji, where they found that within three years of introducing television cases of eating disorders among children rose significantly.
The Harvard Medical School visited Fiji to evaluate the effect of the introduction of television on body satisfaction and disordered eating in adolescent girls.
In 1995, television arrived and within three years the percentage of girls demonstrating body dissatisfaction rose from 12.7 per cent to 29.2 per cent.
Dieting among teenagers who watched TV increased dramatically to two in every three girls and the rate of self-induced vomiting leapt from zero to 11.3 per cent.
Tags: Adolescents, Anorexia, Body Image, Children, Dieting, Dr Sloane Madden, Eating Disorders, Education, Fiji, life, media, News, Parenting, Susan Towns, Teenagers, television, The Harvard Medical School, Westmead Children's Hospital