Eating Recovery Center Warns Bullying Can Lead to Eating Disorders
Treatment Center Offers Three Ways Parents Can Minimize the Impact of Body-Focused Bullying As recent national headlines have shown, bullying can have a significant impact on adolescents’ self esteem and sense of self worth. When bullying takes the form of making fun of weight or teasing about body shape, it can also contribute to the development of an eating disorder, warns Eating Recovery Center, a licensed and Joint Commission accredited behavioral hospital providing comprehensive treatment and sustainable recovery for eating disorders. In fact, a 2009 study conducted by Beat, a British eating disorders association, found that nearly one-half of adolescents with eating disorders believe that bullying contributed to their illness. “We’ve seen the detrimental effects that bullying can have on an adolescent’s self esteem,” said Bobbie Arthur, L.C.S.W., family clinician at Eating Recovery Center. “However, parents can minimize the impact of teasing about body shape and size by helping adolescents respect themselves and build a strong sense of self worth.” Arthur offers the following three tips to help parents mitigate the effects of body-focused bullying. 1. Broaden your idea of beauty and focus on the unique elements – not centered on appearance – that make your young adult special. Highlight your son’s creativity and intelligence. Applaud your daughter’s energy and enthusiasm. Sit down with your child to identify admirable people who do not necessarily have the “perfect” look or body. 2. Match your actions to your words. When helping an adolescent recover from body-focused bullying, a parent who has positive body beliefs will have far more credibility than one who consistently criticizes his or her own looks. 3. Remember that good intentions can sometimes be damaging. Seemingly harmless messages that come from the family can have a significant, long-term impact. Instead of joking about body shape and size, encouraging weight loss or criticizing food choices, model healthy and active behaviors and promote healthy choices. “It is important to help your teen see every aspect of himself or herself and love the broad spectrum that is who they are,” said Arthur. If a loved one’s focus on body image leads to signs of eating disorders, treatment may be necessary. Contact Eating Recovery Center for guidance related to eating disorder treatment options or for more information about eating disorders and insurance. Eating Recovery Center can also provide information about supporting a loved one with an eating disorder during food-focused holidays or occasions or tips for avoiding eating disorders in college.