Leading Source

Sizing up the scope of the problem

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, so I’ve collected some thought-provoking ideas on the topic for your consumption.

When it comes to dietary issues, schools often think about what’s on the lunch menu in cafeterias and what’s on the blackboard (or these days, computer screen) in health classes.

But at the University Laboratory High School in Illinois, counselors recommended blocking websites that promoted anorexia as a lifestyle choice from the school network. While in Seattle, the city school board’s policy on sales of competitive foods on campus says the “availability of non-nutritious foods… increases the potential for development of eating disorders.”

But in the end, how well do we understand eating disorders in children and teens? According to a recent Washington Post article, not very well.

The article describes the experience of Christina Grieco, whose mother remembers her therapist, family physician and nutritionist recommending residential treatment for her 15-year-old daughter when she received an anorexia nervosa diagnosis in 2006.

When outpatient therapy failed, the Griecos spent more than $100,000 for Christina to stay in an eating disorders clinic in Arizona for two months.

It didn’t work. Officials at the clinic told her parents not be “food police” when she returned home, but Christina relapsed and continued to starve herself with such freedom.

Then her parents discovered the Maudsley approach, developed in London in the 1980s. The technique puts parents at the helm of their child’s recovery, encouraging them to make nutritional decisions for their child.

While Christina has not fully recovered, she credits the approach with putting her on the right track to healthy eating.

Although school boards may not regulate behaviors at home, they can certainly advance treatment of eating disorders by helping parents know their options as soon as their child is diagnosed.

On a national level, the Eating Disorders Coalition held a press conference on Capitol Hill today to introduce the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act. View a PDF summary of the bill here.

Christian Kloc, Spring Intern

Naomi Dillon|February 25th, 2009|Categories: American School Board Journal, Wellness|Tags: , , |

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