That’s one of many messages I heard last night during a program called “Dying to Be Thin,” held at Waggener High School in St. Matthews. We hear a lot about obesity issues, but this is at the other end of the scale … being so thin it could kill you.
A beautiful 23-year-old named Whitney said her eating disorder was driven by anxiety and wanting to be perfect. She is one of an estimated 30 million people in the United States who have dealt with eating disorders. And it’s happening more often. Why? Contributing factors may be TV ads and shows that feature extremely thin young women and teenagers — at the age when most eating disorders begin — wanting to “fit in.”
Amy L. Garlove, M.D., a pediatrician who spoke last night, said parents should stress healthy eating, not weight, when they talk about food and eating habits. Dr. Garlove said parents should recognize the signs of an eating disorder — including weight loss, skipping meals, obsessing over food and exercising excessively — and should not wait too long before seeking help. Another speaker, Bryan D. Carter, Ph.D., said the physical effects of an eating disorder include reduced heart rate, bone loss, severe dehydration and even death.
Treating eating disorders begins with medical stabilization. After that, therapists work on issues that may have led to the eating disorder. Treatment options vary and include outpatient and inpatient care.
Norton Healthcare is a partner in the newly formed Eating Disorders Coalition of Kentuckiana and is working to develop programs dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders to be offered at the future Norton Women’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Hospital – St Matthews.
If you want to know more about eating disorders, here’s my interview with Dr. Garlove.