Kids Help Phone launches updated online content about teen body image in time for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Jan 31, 2013, 10:00 ET from Kids Help Phone

TORONTO, Jan. 31, 2013 /CNW/ - National Eating Disorder Week runs from February 3-9, 2013, and to coincide with this, Kids Help Phone's award-winning website is launching brand new content about eating disorders to help support teens and the people who care about them.

At, visitors can find out about different types of eating disorders, learn about some of the reasons why a person may develop an eating disorder, and how young people can get help for themselves or for a friend.

Eating disorders and body image are often associated with girls, but boys can be affected, too. That's why Kids Help Phone is asking everyone - young people and adults alike - to take the time to read and share's new eating disorder content.

Why we want to talk about this
At Kids Help Phone, approximately one out of every three counselling sessions related to mental health in 2012. And on an average day, about three counselling sessions related to eating disorders.

  • February 3-9, 2013, is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
  • Prevalence rates of anorexia and bulimia appear to increase during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.
  • Most five year old girls have been found to have ideas about dieting, and the Nova Scotian study found that 60% of girls in grades 10-12 were dieting (Urquhart & Mihalynuk, 2011)
  • Young women account for 95% of eating disorder issues recorded at Kids Help Phone, with 14 to 16 year olds accounting for almost half of all eating disorder contacts.
  • Kids Help Phone's data shows that the months of October, followed by July, and thirdly, December, are when the service's professional counsellors are most asked for support regarding eating disorder issues.
  • 4% of boys in grades 9 and 10 reported anabolic steroid use in a 2002 study, showing that body preoccupation and attempts to alter one's body are issues affecting both men and women.

Body dissatisfaction in young people can be a predictor for later physical and mental health difficulties, including obesity and the development of eating disorders.  In contrast, body acceptance is associated with more positive physical and mental health, including maintaining a healthy weight over time.

What our experts are saying
Help young people to understand that it can take time to adjust to the changes in their body. If your child expresses dissatisfaction with their body, let them know that many people have things about their bodies that they wish they could change.  Encourage them to pay attention to all the things their body lets them do, like moving and playing.

What parents can do

  • Set a positive example. When you are more accepting of your own body, you make it easier for your children to accept themselves and their own bodies as well.
  • Don't focus on weight, focus on health. Provide your child with a range of healthy foods and make opportunities for them to engage in enjoyable physical activity. Trust that the rest will take care of itself.
  • If your child is involved in sports, talk to their coach, gym teacher, or teammates. Find out what kind of messages they're getting related to body image, eating and exercise.
  • Educate. Encourage young people to learn about the ways that the images they see can be digitally manipulated and airbrushed.  Encourage them not to compare themselves to the pictures they see in the media.

Kids Help Phone's professional counsellors are available for interviews to share more expert tips on how to talk to your children about eating disorders, body image, self-esteem and more.

About Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone is Canada's leading phone and online counselling service for youth. It's free, anonymous and confidential. Professional counsellors are available any time of the day or night, 365 days a year, to help young people, ages five to 20, deal with concerns large or small. As a community-based national charity, Kids Help Phone receives no core government funding and relies on community and corporate support to fund its essential and vital service.

SOURCE Kids Help Phone