Helping Your 'Not-Thin' Kids
What parents should (and shouldn't) do
Eating Disorders on the Rise
Anorexia has risen steadily since the 1950s, while the rate of bulimia among
10- to 39-year-olds tripled between 1988 and 1993, according to Diane Mickley,
MD, director of the Wilkins Center (which specializes in eating disorders,
self-esteem, and weight issues).
What are the ages when children are most vulnerable to developing eating
disorders? "For anorexia it's … in the 12- to 13-year ballpark, around
physical puberty, and also later, in the 17-year range, around the approach of
separation for college," says Mickley. "Bulimia has a peak onset during
the college-aged years."
Research shows these illnesses may be hereditary (as much so as
schizophrenia). But environment is also important.
"For anorexia, the vulnerable temperament is anxious, harm-avoidant,
perfectionistic, disciplined, restrained, responsible, people-pleasing,"
says Mickley, "while for bulimia, being more impulsive, stimulus-seeking,
and [changeable] seems to put people more at risk."
In a vulnerable person, experts say, an intentional -- even appropriate --
weight loss "diet" can generate a series of events that help set an
eating disorder in motion.
So what should a concerned parent do when a child is overweight or obese?
And -- just as important -- what should parents not do? Here are some
tips from the experts: