January 28, 2010

Knock it off!

"Family influence on disordered eating: The role of body image dissatisfaction"

Oh for goodness sake, let's give it a rest!

Parents have an influence on their children. Bad parenting isn't good. Setting a bad example is bad. Haranguing one's children is bad. Enough.

But body image dissatisfaction is practically the altar of modern life and parents who DON'T influence their children toward so-called "healthy eating" and a pursuit of thinness are reviled and ridiculed. Better we should spend our time trying to support parents in bucking the societal tidal wave toward self-loathing and thin-worship than scolding parents for buying in.

And, need I remind you, disordered eating and body image aren't good for ANYONE, whether they have an eating disorder or not.

3 comments:

  1. "encouragement to control weight/size was a stronger predictor of body dissatisfaction than other types of parental comments"- ie people who had developed a particular problem remembered the comments relating to that problem more than they did comments about which they were unconcerned. Whatever next? Arachnophobics are more disturbed by comments about spiders than they are about comments about birds? Those with a fear of flying are more afraid of airports than they are of car lots?

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  2. I'm with you 100% on this Laura. I don't see any value to this study. As Marcella notes, the paper doesn't prove that the parents of disordered eaters actually made more negative comments than other parents: it might instead show that disordered eaters report remembering more negative comments, a classic example of what psychologists call selective and biased recall. Also, how is "disordered eating" defined? In this study, it appears to be something different from anorexia nervosa, bulimia, BED, or EDNOS. But what? Experts cannot agree among themselves on what is meant by "disordered eating" that is not AN, BN, BED, or EDNOS. Therefore, asking a group of college students that question in a written questionnaire will inevitably lead to wildly divergent responses with virtually no scientific control or accuracy. Further, it is unscientific to ask college students to diagnose themselves as to whether their eating is disordered or not. In fact, the people with the most disordered eating often are the first to deny that their eating is disordered, resulting in a further skewing of the survey results.
    Let's all agree that parents should not tease or harangue their kids about food or weight. That's obvious. One more unhelpful and unscientific study isn't needed to arrive at that conclusion.

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