Margaret Renkl of Parenting Magazine writes that the “average age for the onset of anorexia used to be 13 to 17. Now it's 9 to 12, and children as young as 7 have been diagnosed.” Considering I was not yet 12 when I started showing signs of disordered eating... I can’t say that I’m surprised by this trend.
“A 7 year old announces that she's become a vegetarian... Then she starts eating less and less of her food. When her parents bring her into treatment, she is emaciated but pinches a tiny amount of flesh between her thumb and forefinger to illustrate "how fat" she really is.” Guilty.
The article goes on to comment that “Our culture serves up such a vast smorgasbord of body judgments, is it any wonder that so many kids are unhappy with the way they look?” If only it were that easy.
Truth is…the majority of young people will probably never develop an eating disorder but there is cause for concern in the increase in dieting and caloric restriction across the country that is unhealthy and a trigger for eating disorders.
And while I can't wait to be a parent someday I realize that for this reason, helping a child build self esteem and being a healthy role model, and so many others it is the most challenging and important job I'll ever have.