I wish to applaud Carrie Dennet’s article, “How to help a college student with an eating disorder” [Health & Fitness, Nov. 9.] As Dennet explains, “An eating disorder isn’t a lifestyle choice or an example of an extreme diet.” It is, in fact, a mental-health condition and a public-health concern.
Thanksgiving break is a great time for families to check in with college students about health topics. It is equally important that we, as a community, implement early prevention measures. Eating disorders have been increasing for decades. What is more disturbing is the young age at which children, especially girls, internalize self-deprecating messages about body size.
Research shows that education about eating disorders decreases their prevalence. In an age of photo editing and models that are t thinner than average people, it is important that we as parents, educators, health providers and media producers educate children about the importance of healthful eating and about the serious risks and consequences of disordered eating.
Young people, in fact children, need intentional mentorship from adults to form their own critical analyses of the numerous digitally enhanced body images they will witness throughout development.
Moreover, youth need explicit help to foster self-confidence in their whole-self identities. Let’s support college students in their health, and let’s weave a positive fabric of self-conception from an early age for our children.
Sarah Fiskness, youth and families Counselor, Seattle