December 3, 2011

Send my your tired, your poor....your Growth Charts

I'm preparing a presentation to a group of pediatricians, arguing several points:

  • That healthy children should follow their historic growth curve, not be normed to an average age/height BMI.
  • That having a higher or lower percentile is not a sign of ill health or healthy restraint, but changes in that percentile CAN indicate a change in health or behaviors.
  • That telling children to change their weight is a poor health policy.
  • That healthy metabolism and growth are best served by  attention to all aspects of health: eating, activity, sleep, mental health, other health issues.
  • That the goal of healthy metabolism and behaviors stands on its own and causes harm when done in pursuit of weight loss. 
  • That parents are in charge of feeding and lifestyle, not their young children.
So, I need some help from you all? I want to ask you for your child's growth curve chart. Even if it is spotty, I want to collect enough of these charts (taking all identifying information off, of course) to illustrate that children's mental health problems with eating correspond to changes in their growth percentiles. As far as I know, and I've looked, no one has made this kind of information available. I will collect these and publish them on the F.E.A.S.T. site along with other supporting information. Most pediatricians are still thinking that a child has to lose weight to have an eating disorder when really the first sign is a failure to grow as expected. Most pediatricians still believe that a child who has always been at the 80th percentile for growth "would be healthier" if they dropped to the 50th. Many still believe that eating disorders are just a weight issue, and that eating disorders are just a measure of dangerous weight loss/purging.

I believe if I could gather enough of these charts, we could change practice around the world. Will you help me?

If you have a chart plotted already, please send it to me. Mark on it when your child's mental symptoms appeared or skyrocketed, and where they abated or receded entirely.
If you have not done so, please take all the weight/height data you have and plot it, or send it to me and I'll have someone plot it. Here is the chart to use: 
Not just anorexia, by the way: patients with bulimia and BED and all forms of EDNOS as well.
Do not think that your loved one's chart doesn't matter. If it DOESN'T show a pattern in this way it is still important. If your child had a lag between weight restoration and symptoms, that's important.

I'm tired of waiting around for researchers to establish what parents here already know. And maybe we're wrong! Let's figure it out.

3 comments:

  1. Great that you're doing this much needed education. Here's my own spin on the bmi and kids which are based on true cases in my practice:

    http://dropitandeat.blogspot.com/2011/02/where-bmi-goes-wrong-lessons-from-cupid.html
    http://dropitandeat.blogspot.com/2011/07/war-on-obesity-preventing-collateral.html
    http://dropitandeat.blogspot.com/2011/10/healthy-at-every-size.html

    Let me know if I can help in any way.

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  2. Excellent, excellent posts, HikerRD! I wish more people understood and practiced this way!

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  3. I shared my daughter's grow chart (and precipitous drop) with her therapist years ago. I wanted it used by both the people treating her and shared with my daughter. I don't think that was ever done. The chart was kept by her own pediatrician's, not me. I've looked high and low for it and may have given them the only copy. I will search again and, if I can find it, will share it.

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