Eating Disorders Among Children Rising at an Alarming Rate

The right type of family input can quell this trend, according to Kimberly Dennis, M.D.

Dec 09, 2010, 17:48 ET from Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

CHICAGO, Dec. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows hospitalizations for eating disorders in children under 12 increased 119 percent between 1999 and 2006. "This is an alarming trend because small children develop their foundation of self worth and body worth in their early years (birth to five years old)," said Dr. Kimberly Dennis, medical director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center. "This increase in hospitalizations show today's children have distorted body image issues to such a degree it is causing unhealthy, even deadly, behavior."

According to the study, evidence of excessive weight concern, inappropriate dieting, or a pattern of weight loss in children requires further attention. Talking to the parent of a child may also yield information, however parents could be unaware, or even part, of the problem.

"If a mother is anxious about eating, hates her body or has an unhealthy relationship with food, this can be directly transmitted to her children in deep, long lasting ways," Dr. Dennis said.  "The child absorbs and internalizes these same beliefs, regardless of whether or not they were ever explicitly communicated."

Often times, the media is blamed for portraying men and women unrealistically. "Media is not going to change, but parents can," said Dr. Dennis. "The impact that one woman has on her children is exponentially more powerful than anything the media or culture can do to prevent eating disorders," she said. "Eating disorders are family diseases, and are best when treated as such."  

"Early treatment can not only save the individual, but also family members. We see it every day at Timberline Knolls. We are not only helping women save their own lives, but their recoveries have deep and healing influences on their children and other impressionable people in their lives, so recovery reaches more than just one person."

About Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Timberline Knolls is one of the leading private residential treatment centers for eating disorders, substance abuse, trauma, and severe depression, with or without a co-occurring disorder or addiction. Expert treatment staff offers a nurturing environment of recovery for women and girls (ages 12 and older) on a 43-acre campus in suburban Chicago. Women and families seeking Christian treatment have the option of working with a dedicated Christian therapist. For more information on Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, call us at 877.257.9611.

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