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Monday, May 23, 2005

Children of WLS at Risk of Eating Disorders

Here at LivingAfterWLS we’ve been speaking about our children, obesity and weight loss surgery. A reader pointed out yet another problem we face as parents who’ve had WLS: A child with an eating disorder. Turns out, as our children observe us diet and fail (repeatedly) before having gastric bypass, then they watch us lose weight in an almost obsessive excitement after WLS, some panic and vow “this will not happen to me.” A descent into an eating disorder may follow.

According to AnorexiaBulimaHelp “Dieting or restriction of certain foods, or excessive dieting from parents” is a contributing factor in teen and pre-teen eating disorders. In addition “The appearance obsessed society most people live in can contribute to eating disorders . . . When combined with a low self-esteem, feelings of depression or anxiety or isolation, the effects can be devastating. Eating disorders commonly erupt as a coping mechanism, as a way for people to feel more “normal” and in control in a society that isn’t really normal to begin with.”

Wow. Are you worried? Growing up I watched my mother work her way up and down the scale many times. No need to name the diets she tried: we all tried them. I believe I learned from her that diet equals failure. It seems like every time she’d get to the benchmark, “this is the lowest weight I’ve been since having my first child” suddenly her weight loss would stop and back up the scale she’d climb at a rapid rate. She is morbidly obese today and no longer attempts dieting. Who can blame her?

Did she know that was the lesson she was teaching me? That eventually I’d "diet" myself into morbid obesity? I don’t think so, and I don’t blame her. She didn’t know any better.

We know better today. It is our stewardship to our children to do the best we can to protect them, raise them healthy, and teach them healthy habits of nutrition and exercise. We owe it to our children to keep them off the operating table and out of eating disorder treatment centers.

But how to do that? By example and by being informed.

AnorexiaBulimaHelp is a comprehensive resource on eating disorders – if you fear someone in your family is suffering from an eating disorder please visit this site. There are links to several other resources. For an informative overview read Anorexia Nervosa Alert - is Your Daughter Dying To Be Thin? In addition, take a look at this article, Family Meals Help Prevent Eating Disorders. It suggests regular family mealtime will reduce incidence of eating disorders in children and teens.

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