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Friday, 13 December 2013

Does Anorexia Ever Really Go?

Reading an old account of a 10 year struggle with anorexia written by Lizzie Porter in The Times led me to wonder if anorexia ever really goes.

I was thinking about this because yesterday I was speaking to colleagues about their treatment of a 17 year old girl who was in hospital with anorexia but that was a while ago.  The team feel stuck. Her body mass index is 19 now so she is relatively safe. Should they go on and on with therapy?

Endless therapy can teach a person that they cant cope on their own, so I worry a little about this. We all have times in our lives when we may need someone to support us But this support can be a double edged sword. A lot of therapists are guilty about keeping someone in an endless treatment loop.

Life is stressful and the old backups of tribes and old wise people just aren't there to keep us going any more. But do we have to keep treating people who are possibly OK for now?

I've had letters from people with anorexia who feel completely in thrall to their illness even after many years. If it is so bad that they barely function then yes, some kind of help is needed but which help will this be?

As for the rest, if we are coping and safe we may have to learn meet life on our own. Perhaps find friends to support us rather than "experts".  I fear to convince people that the only way they can survive it to be with a therapist.  Food for thought.

For my really main big blog about whether anorexia really ever goes, check out this link.


Enjoy your Xmas and have a Happy Flourishing 2014

Monday, 9 December 2013

Obesity Academics For Sale

Today I found myself arguing quite passionately with a member of the NICE Obesity coordination team against the proposal that obese diabetics be put on a very low calorie liquid diet programme.

I suspect that there are interested commercial organisations who are interested in both the proposal and the research which has led to it. What about all the evidence that show the possible long term effects of these diets on weight maintenance, addictive behaviour,  binge eating and subsequent ill health?

About a year ago I read a most favourable review about VLCD diets from Dr Ian Campbell who was a very prominent person in the National Obesity Forum. I wondered where this enthusiasm came from.  Not one word about their potential side effects.  Dear oh dear!

I would guess that most of these commercial weight loss operations - any of them, get an obesity academic on board to lend authority to their operations. Susan Jebb perhaps the most prominent was adopted by Rosemary Conley and by Weight Watchers in 2010. 

Shame on individuals who take the Kings Silver which essentially prevents them from speaking out at any time against the practices of the organisations that they represent. Good treatment? The obese and sick hardly have a hope.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Rebecca Adlington's Body Image Woes

Rebecca Adlington is an inspiration and a star. She has an amazing body and mind which have worked together to give her two Olympic awards, including gold medals.

But she is being tormented about her looks on social media and her tormentors are making her sad. How can we all bear this?

I have written her an open letter which I wont repeat here, but you might like to follow this link. How can we all support her in distancing herself from Appearance Bullies who are nobodies in their own lives trying to pull down people who have put their heads above the parapet.

Anyone who thinks it is a useful life quest to look like a beauty queen of dubious talent needs to have their head examined. Lets celebrate something different.

For my open letter visit below


Friday, 15 November 2013

Anorexia NOT Increasing In Children?

In 2013 there was a media storm about increasing rates of childhood eating disorders that was picked up and chewed over relentlessly by eating disorder organisations.

Except by us. At the National Centre for Eating Disorders, when asked to comment about these new terrible findings, we said. Are you sure this is true?

Denying exciting and terrible news stories doesn't make good press. But we let the tide wash over us and like every tsunami it all drained away.

Now our thoughts have been confirmed. It appeared that journalists have been using the wrong information. This is wrong, and the terrible headlines should be disconfirmed.

For the new evidence and for our more detailed thoughts about childhood eating disorders please follow this link to our website.  http://eating-disorders.org.uk/anorexia-in-children-not-increasing/

Eating disorder organisations like us need not rely on alarmist stories to gain publicity. There is no need to shock the public in order to keep ourselves in profile. We must both  respond to real need and also to calm things down when they are lies, distortions and misinformation.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

I Wouldn't Eat With You

A while ago I wrote a blog about carer burdens and someone thought that I was on the side of the carers. I wrote about my joy in eating and the lovely thing about sharing food with others. She said to me "I wouldn't eat with you."

When I had an eating disorder I wouldn't have eaten with me either.  But now I don't have an eating disorder and I would love to hold out hope for recovery.

Writing about carer burdens does not mean I'm on anyone's side.  Everyone in the grip of the eating disorder world lives in pain and in fear. I am not on the side of the Anorexic Voice but I am on the side of the person It talks to even though he or she cannot hear me.

I am on the side of healing and change.  No one with an eating disorder is happy even if their eating disorder helps them to feel safe for now.

I saw two parents last weekend whose daughter is in the early ferocious grip of anorexia. She is cold, tired and fainting and her heart is failing and she insists that she really doesn't need help. She measures every single calorie she eats on her iPhone and she may be unable to complete her college education.

 There aren't enough buckets in the world to catch the tears of parents who watch their child going through this and who wish it would simply end NOW. So, I am on the side of healing for  parents and sufferers. Healing is possible and healing sometimes means confronting ones deepest fears.

The eating disorder won't ever leave of its own accord. There is  no other solution other than to fight it with the right kind of help. I can help one sufferer and one carer at a time, and will, as long as I have the strength.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Scoffing And Starving Kids

This week I was at a meeting chaired by Rod Liddle about Childhood Obesity. To prepare for this event Rod had written a rather devastating overview of the situation which is not just about Britain, even in the so called health Mediterranean culture children are putting on weight an alarming pace.

We will be spending more on obesity related illnesses than we are spending on education. Is the solution just to deal with fat stigma, as proposed by the Health At Every Size brigade?

Later during the week India Knight wrote about the emerging problem of two year old children who have been admitted to hospital for obesity. Now in some young children, there are physical problems which cause obesity and which can be treated. In most fat children there is nothing amiss other than their diet.

I've written more thoughts on my website blog - Id love to know what you think, and you can see it here. http://eating-disorders.org.uk/starving-and-scoffing-kids/

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Diet Drug Kills Young Man

A young male just over his A-Levels, living not far from me, has died taking DNP, an industrial chemical popular with bodybuilders to help them to lose body fat. Easily available online, this drug has recently killed a young female medical student who had been battling bulimia with the help of a counsellor.

How sad is this. How much a statement of our times. We don't only have pornography online, we have eating pornography with the entire paraphernalia of diet drugs, diet systems, crazy wacky weight reduction plans and pro anorexia websites that are intruding into our lives our peace and our well being.

This is all designed to make other people rich, this death is just collateral damage. Someone is laughing all the way to the bank.

I have written more on our website about young men who hate their bodies, young women who would rather die than FEEL overweight, and people who say that nothing bad will happen to me.

Please read more on http://eating-disorders.org.uk/diet-drug-kills-young-man/

And I repeat what I said on my website. Parents, teachers, coaches and sufferers take note.

 Nothing and I mean NOTHING is more important than health or wellbeing. Not winning at sports, not being a good dancer or a pretty daughter or the thinnest person in the room. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN LIVING A HEALTHY LIFE IN A REASONABLY HEALTHY BODY.

End of story.

Friday, 16 August 2013

How Times Change

   Pasta had not been invented.
   Curry was a surname.
   A takeaway was a mathematical problem.
   A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.
   Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.
   All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
   A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.
   Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.
   A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
   Brown bread was something only poor people ate.
   Oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking
   Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves and never green.
   Coffee was Camp, and came in a bottle.
   Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.
   Only Heinz made beans.
   Fish didn't have fingers in those days.
   Eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.
   None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.
   Healthy food consisted of anything edible.
   People who didn't peel potatoes were regarded as lazy.
   Indian restaurants were only found in  India .
   Cooking outside was called camping.
   Seaweed was not a recognised food.
   "Kebab" was not even a word never mind a food.
   Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.
   Prunes were medicinal.
   Surprisingly, muesli was readily available, it was called cattle feed.
   P ineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.
   Water came out of the tap, if someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than petrol for it they would have become a laughing stock.
   The one thing that we never ever had on our table in the fifties .. was elbows!
and ......People didn't eat in public!

Do you want to add to this list?  Please let me know

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Sharing Meals: Carers And Eating Disorders

I haven't been here for a while, sometimes you just have to think about other things, like walks in the woods, going to the sea with family and eating ice creams (Cornish of course) and rejoicing in having the best fish and chips in the world arguably at Rick Stein's takeaway at Padstow.

And how nice that we were all able to sit down as a family and enjoy.

I think that it's possibly the worst thing in the world is to be with someone who won't share in the meal because they are on some kind of strange diet or they are allergic to fish or because they are terrified of eating. I've done a family check and everyone finds it traumatic and distressing when there is someone who won't or can't eat with everyone else.

Why? We're all individuals. Perhaps we have a caveman gene which puts us on alert when someone in the tribe is not thriving or participating. I have no idea why sharing a meal with  loved ones and sharing enjoyment is so important. Last night, youngest daughter cooked for us and eating together was central to the fun.

People with eating disorders really don't know how much of a burden they put on other people. Much more than other mental health problems. Maybe because sharing food seems to important to social health.

People with eating disorders  under-estimate the impact on carers, siblings and friends of strained atmospheres, the overall burdens of being with them and  the worries carers have about the future. Loved ones  worry about the effects of bizarre eating  on the sufferer and the effects of parent's behaviour on their children.

People with eating issues under-estimate the effort it takes to pretend not to notice bizarre eating habits or to try not to make comments. They under-estimate the stress of trying to encourage someone who is struggling.

When we offer unwanted care or attention is being offered, the person with the eating issue is likely to get aggressive or convince themselves that we are the problem not them.  Then we have to cope with their anger  AS WELL AS the stress and worry of their disorder. The carer struggles to figure out how to communicate their feelings without unleashing a tsunami.

It's not YOUR business says the sufferer. It's my choice to eat what I please. And so it is. No-one wants to be forced to eat things they don't want or like. Yet there is a fine dividing line where we can see that eating has become a form of self harm, and we react to it.

Poor carers.  How can we bridge the gap to make sure that people with eating issues are at least sympathetic to the trauma of living with someone who cannot eat around  the campfire with us.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Men, Muscles & Masculinity A Guest Blog

Hilary Glover  (see footnote) has kindly provided the thoughts for this new bloggy.

Feeling like a "real man" is higher in men with muscle dysmorphia, popularly called ‘bigorexia’, than other gym users. On the other hand, male patients with anorexia nervosa had elevated association with feminine stereotypes, according to research in Biomed Central’s open access journal Journal of Eating Disorders.

Research over the last several decades shows that more and more men admit to being unhappy with their body image. This may show itself in either a desire to lose weight and become thinner, or to gain weight and become more muscular. This can become harmful when the person eats unhealthily or abuses steroids, or when the compulsion for exercise can override normal life resulting in loss of sleep, quality of life, and even in an inability to hold a normal job.

Previously it has been thought that sexual confusion was one of the main driving forces behind body dysmorphia in men. But this study suggests that how men view themselves is more important.

Researchers from the Australian National University and University of Sydney used a questionnaire designed to identify how the study participants viewed themselves in comparison to culturally accepted stereotypes of masculine thoughts and behaviors. The results showed that men with a high drive for muscularity (as in muscle dysmorphia) had a greater preference for traditional masculine roles, whereas men with a high desire for thinness (as in anorexia nervosa) displayed greater adherence to traditional feminine roles.

Dr Stuart Murray from the Redleaf Practice, who led this study, explained, “This does not mean that that the men with anorexia were any less masculine, nor that the men with muscle dysmorphia were less feminine than the control subjects we recruited. It is however an indication of the increasing pressures men are under to define their masculinity in the modern world.”

- ENDS -

Media Contact
Dr Hilary Glover
Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central

Email: hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com


1. Masculinity and femininity in the divergence of male body image concerns
Stuart B Murray, Elizabeth Rieger, Lisa Karlov and Stephen W Touyz
Journal of Eating Disorders (in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central’s open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request on the day of publication.

2. Journal of Eating Disorders is the first open access, peer-reviewed journal publishing leading research in the science and clinical practice of eating disorders. @JEatDisord

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector. @BioMedCentral

Why Is This Eating Disorder Death Different From (Some) Other Deaths?

Georgia Willson Pemberton aged 26 dies as a result of taking Dulcolax laxatives to help achieve her anorexic longings to be thin and empty.

I am sad and frustrated about another needless loss of life. Who was egging her on; with whom was she competing, who was telling her that the only way to live was to be a princess on a pedestal?

Laxative abuse is a horrible way to die, these are dangerous - dangerous substances which ruin the liver and the gut, sometimes permanently. Deluded users think that they help weight loss. But they don't.  They change metabolism and make people gain weight easily, adding to their problems.  It's only the starving which goes alongside laxative abuse which keeps weight down.

Condolences to her parents and family.

I'm not surprised that she was a Head Girl. She probably left school "magna cum laude" (with great praise); the kind of girl who would appear to have it all.

What strikes me about this death is that,  here she was in 2013 with all the king's horses and all the king's men trying to put her back together again. Nothing that money can't buy. But they couldn't beat the demon anorexia -  not with all the money and all the new wonderful state-of-the-art eating disorder services out there.

This was not some poor family trying to get noticed by the national health services. This was a girl whose parents could buy the best there is.

So never mind all the chatter about "there isnt enough help for people with eating disorders".  The sad thing is that we could pour millions down into the black hole that is anorexia.  Even the best is not good enough to dent this serious mental illness.

But sometimes, someone can make a difference. What we can't always do is "bottle it".

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Plastic Surgery: External Locus Of Control?

Professor Tanya Byron writes in the Times  to a lady whose daughters are against her having cosmetic surgery. She has been discarded by her husband after 35 years of marriage in favour of a younger model. Her face, she feels, wears the strain of spending a life time looking after a husband and children.  She wants a face and breast lift but her daughters are "furious" and call her "shallow".

Prof Tanya devotes her response to the question of where the "locus of control" (LOC) of this poor lady lies. Is it outside of herself, which means that she is sensitive to the opinions of others? Or it is inside of herself, which means that she has greater level of personal control and self-determination. With an internal LOC  one assumes, she would not seek to define herself via her appearance.

Tanya Byron thence cautions the lady against having cosmetic enhancement, a contentious position to adopt. She says find another interest to occupy your time. What? Visiting old churches?

I feel that Tanya has hidden her personal biases inside a wall of hypothesis and so-called evidence. about "locus of control".

Prof T misses the point. My attention regarding this problem was directed toward the daughters who were furious with the mother. They may well have opinions, worries about the procedures, undue influence from others, fears and concerns about what their mother might become. But by what right do they accuse their mother of being shallow and insecure?

I specialise in the treatment of body image, locus of control issues, contingent self destructive behaviours and everything else to do with a horrible relationship with food and with oneself.  But this does not make me against cosmetic enhancement per se.  I feel that I have an internal locus of control and possibly also high "appearence schemacity". This means that my self worth is in part affected by looking as good as I can within reason and without being obsessed by it from one minute to the next.

I reflect this by the clothes I choose, the attention I give my hair, my quest to eat a good healthful diet, the vitamins I take, the occasional facial and anything else that I am able to afford. If Prof Tanya does any of these herself then I suspect a little hypocrisy is at play.

So is cosmetic surgery the thin edge of the wedge?  No, I don't think so. I would say to this lady "go for it my dear, and tell your daughters where to go". Spend your money on everything and anything you like. If they don't like it, they can lump it, and if they give you a hard time they don't deserve you. Get real, it's tough out there. I hope you find a man who is good to you with your new face and your new breasts and if you need any help with your "locus of control" then get some counselling alongside your new face but not instead of it.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Implants for Anorexia Nervosa

Last week the Press around the world reported on some partial success for electronic implants given to people with long standing anorexia nervosa. The research was done in Canada and reported in the Lancet.

Partial, meaning that about 2 in 3 of the people in this small trial had positive results. The research is blighted in part by not having a comparison group of people who BELIEVE that they have had an  implant, which might have tested for the placebo effect.

This is a very important piece of news which deserves our attention. To get more of my thoughts on whether this is the next best thing, please follow the link below.


Friday, 1 March 2013

Eating Disorders In Boarding Schools

On Monday Feb 25th I gave a talk to a group of 80 teachers, nurses and other representatives of boarding schools across the UK.

Schools are there to educate and help our children to grow and become good citizens and expand their potential - did I miss anything out here?

But kids come along with issues which seriously affect their ability to be present and learn. Eating disorders are more likely to hit in adolescence just at the time when they are facing their exams and the culmination of their years of preparation.

It's clear from the voices in the room that an eating disorder has serious effects. It affects the child, their class mates, their teachers and their brothers and sisters. Schools are ill-equpped to deal with the fall out of an eating disorder and schools are not supposed to be hospitals or treatment centres. When I was growing up, matron was only supposed to bandage a wounded leg or a bump on the head, not to counsel us for "stuff".  What are they to do?

I heard some stories about young boys who are drinking protein shakes and exercising excessively to the point where they can hardly stand up. I heard stories about young girls who are making themselves sick and refusing to discuss this with their teacher. I heard stories about kids who are very thin, pretending that they are eating when they are not,  and insisting that nothing is wrong with them at all.

Can a school do anything to prevent eating disorders?  I am not really sure that they can. Well- meaning education describing eating disorders can do more harm than good. I think that some of you will disagree with me. Anorexia begins, they say, at birth.

Some things might be useful like body image work and media awareness training, emotional reslience work should begin when kids are very young.

And eating disorders are severe, sometimes chronic mental health conditions. They emerge because of slight or serious emotional deficits which can be healed in time with the right treatment.  They are not just a silly phase.

Schools should not be trying to treat an eating disorder on their own. A young person with a problem needs urgent long term expert help. A school should be part of a treatment plan that has been designed and written down by someone else.

At any one time, EVERY school will have some pupils with dangerous eating practices. This is never going to change. A teacher or parent who is concerned can access help and information on our website http://eating-disorders.org.uk or call us on 0845 838 2040

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Two Die From Dieting

Laura Willmot dies from anorexic collapse one week after being sent home by her doctors.
In another world, a millionaire's ex wife freezes to death in her car after her wine binge. In a barely noticed throwaway remark, her husband noted that "we ate separately, she was always on one sort of diet or another". Living these separate lives, the couple drift apart. Had they remained together, she would not have met her lonely end in the cold.

Maybe I'm stretching a point about the untimely death of Nicole Falkingham - but no-one has ever looked at the effect that constant dieting has on marital bliss. But from where I am sitting, I can see the toll that is taken by diets, nutritional quirks, men and women chasing hours at the gym in the pursuit of a perfect body and partners left alone at home while one or the other pounds the streets.

Two wasted lives. 1 in 5 people with anorexia are going to die sooner or later. And countless others are going to meet their end directly or indirectly through the need to be thin.

India Knight has written in the Sunday Times of her frustration sitting  in group therapy sessions listening to people wittering on about their stuggles with food and weight, psycho-babbling about things that may not really be going to help. I also sat in at one session at a very famous Addiction place listening in growing frustration as the therapist did not intervene in what I felt was a swirl of very toxic talk.

Anorexia is one special illness in which I feel the right of confidentilaity should be suspended. I know that many of you will disagree with me. Please check out more of my thoughts and questions about the death of Laura on http://eating-disorders.org.uk/two-die-from-dieting/

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Fatty! You're Fat! Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat!

So says Giles Coren writing in last week's Sunday Times. He feels rather pleased that obesity is now associated with the middle classes. This is based on some research carried out at Leeds Metropolitan University. (Perhaps , he suggests, this is because the poor have been eating low fat low cholesterol meals in the form of all that horse).

He claims that he has been victimised for his anti-obesity stance from left wing liberals who have interpreted his opinions as thinly veiled class snobbery.

The term "Middle Class" used to be used pejoratively, according to Coren, so he suggests that we should now assign the word "fat" to everything we hate. This is because we are no longer in danger of meaning poor people when we use the word"fat".

So why are the Middle Classes now gaining weight. Clearly we can't blame ignorance or bad food any more. Coren blames obesity in part on a failure of moral guidance at a national, non-economically mediated level, propelling us to consume far more of the worlds precious resources than we deserve. Perhaps he is right. When I go into our local cinema I look at all the junk for sale, I ask myself do we really need all this?

On the opposite page in the same paper, Janice Turner writes about our obsession with the appearance of Michael Gove and Teresa May, the Home Secretary, who has just efforfully lost some weight. Why make comment on how they look? Their looks say nothing about their capacity to do their work, which is far more important. Her view is that the tyranny of looks is damaging public life, weakening debate and making poor, disrespectful satire.

At the same time,the erstwhile head of the All Party Parliamentary Body Image group (Caroline Nokes) described the conservative politician Eric Pickles as a jolly fat man. Now that's not right is it, surely she should know better.

So here we have two top rate journalists coming together in a perfect storm about how we should think about people who don't appear normal (weight wise at least). Isnt that soooooo .... fat!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Where is Suzanne?

Suzanne who wrote a comment, its taken me a month to read it but I am hoping that you will see my reply....

The Theft Of Perfect Souls: Facebook?

Today I was reading about how girls as young as 11, 12 and 13 are persecuted on Facebook and Instagram etc to perform sexual acts.

They may be encouraged to self harm on camera, they are threatened if they don't do what they are told and they are slagged off if they dont obey.

They can be called slut,s slags and whores. The perpetrators of such horrible abuse can be the boy next door, or the classmate in school or the chap she thinks has been her friend, perhaps someone she played with when she was younger.

We now know that there is a link between the onset of eating disorders and this dreadful behaviour from which they can't escape.

I've already written more about this on our BRAND NEW WEBSITE (hurray!) Please check out what I have said at www.eating-disorders.org.uk  - the blog links are on our home page.

Dignity and self respect carry a young woman through the tumult of adolescence and protect her from substance abuse and eating distress. How are we going to protect our children from this filth?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Avoiding the Big Six To Cure Or Prevent A Weight Problem?

At a recent eating disorders conference on emotional eating, Prof Haslam who is chairman of the National Obesity Forum has stated as follows:

“My advice for avoiding obesity? Stay away from the Big Six: pasta, rice, bread, sugar, potatoes and flour.”

One of the delegates is quoted as saying "Surely humans have been eating bread, potatoes and grains for many centuries – is it really the fault of the humble carb? What he explains is illuminating: that refined carbohydrates and sugars are present in ever-higher quantities in our diets, but they’re hidden. Crisps or pizza or fizzy drinks, for example, are classified as high-fat or high-sugar items, when in fact they’re loaded with carbohydrates. "

Is that so?  There are millions of people who remain reasonably slim who try one way or another to negotiate a clearly obesogenic society. We all live in central heating and this has been implicated in obesity. We sit down a lot and that is implicated (whether or not we try to compensate by going for a morning run). We are upsizing and downsizing and that is implicated too. Don't get me started on the causes of obesity, I could write a book.

So is the problem the hidden sugars in food? Yes, but only if you eat the foods with "hidden sugars" to excess - not by eating the humble carb.  Is there danger in such categorical opinions. (Has he been hi-jacked by the Dukan brigade?)

I weigh about 7 1/2 stones and my diet is largely based around the humble carb. I daily eat bread, slightly undercooked pasta with vegetables (another carb). I eat rice, couscous, barley, honey on my porridge, potatoes with and without skins and a bit of flour here and there for fun. I am highly trained in how the body works and I know that you need a good supply of carbs from many dietary sources. I have many people who recover from obesity while continuing to eat the humble carb.  Prof Haslam you are a doctor too, so where is this nonsense coming from. Recant!

Its really easy with a little knowledge and wisdom to avoid "hidden sugars" and high fructose corn syrups while continuing to embrace the lowly carb. in all its wondrous glory, with the fibre that helps us to maintain a healthy digestion and with the resistant starches that support the flora in our gut.  That reduces obesity too by the way.

I am uneasy about statements such as the one above which fosters fears about food, all or nothing thinking, good and bad food mentality etc which fosters obesity and leads to disordered eating. A professional needs to be careful about opinions? Without qualification?

Monday, 14 January 2013

Barbie Doll In The Family

My 3 year old granddaughter has fallen in love with her first Barbie doll; given to her by someone else of course. She has a beautful pink dress and is called Princess Dayna.

Until now, the Barbie has been known to us as she-who-shall-not-be-mentioned; the toy equivalent of Lord Voldemart. She who is the cause of body image problems in young girls and the one who stimulates anorexia and bulimia. The doll with breasts and a BMI of 13. If she was a real woman she would probaby be dead by now.

We tried.; we swore that no Barbie doll would cross our threshold. We bought ragdolls with real size bodies and we bought boy dolls and pirate ships. To no avail.  Delilah wanted a fairy doll with wings and asked Santa for one at Christmas. I found a long legged Fairy Barbie in our local department store and refused to buy her, so Santa honoured her request with a curvacious Princess Belle.  We hid the Barbie, but our grandchild hunted for her day after day. We gave in.

So I got to thinking; what is the appeal of this Barbie thing that eating disorder professionals despise. Is she really responsible for all the bad press she is getting in the eating disorder world?

Perhaps but perhaps not.  She is certainly easy to carry around and it's very easy to move her different parts. That's part of her hand-appeal.

I think that we have given the Barbie too much influence. We have been looking for something to blame for the self worth issues faced by our daughters and for the growing appeal of breast enhancements and liposuction. Perhaps first we need to look at ourselves, the TV programmes we allow our kids to watch and the examples we set them with our fat comments, silly diets and excessive exercise habits.

So perhaps in the right home environment Barbie and Ken could be benign. Just a nice little dressing up toy for girls and boys. Or am I wrong?