ABC News on Anorexia Nervosa in Young Children

I have mixed feelings on Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Being an ED Curmudgeon, I want the "Awareness" to be of the right things and the most important things. I brace myself at the end of February each year for the distorted mirror illustrations, the phrase "painfully thin," and the phrase "starving for" followed by almost anything.

And yet, and yet... this is the week that many news outlets will assign pieces on the topic and these are opportunities to refresh and update the public "awareness" of eating disorders. The parent Googling in the next year is more likely to find better information than before.

It's only the first day of the "Week" here in the US but it comes with glad tidings:

Anorexia Can Strike and Kill as Early as Kindergarten

In which such important statements are made as:

"Anorexia nervosa is a relatively rare and chronic brain disorder with no known causes."

"But it's not caused by the media or by pressure to be thin, though people like to blame that," she said. "Parents don't cause eating disorders and children don't choose to have them."

"You can't cause it even if you wanted to," said O'Toole. "It has nothing to do with fashion magazines. We see farm kids, religiously-raised kids who are homeschooled and have no access to television ... who developed anorexia nervosa."

"Anne was desperate, so she went online and found the "Magic Plate," a term used to describe how parents approach feeding their child -- and the website for the organization F.E.A.S.T. (Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders)."

Now, those who know me will notice there is an error in the piece, and ABC is going to fix it. You'll also know that one of the quotes in the piece sticks out painfully as refuted by most of the rest, but sunlight is the best way to see how different organizations approach the issue.

"Awareness" that some still look at serious mental illness as something "triggered" by random comments is also important. I believe that belongs in the category of women going "mad" from reading novels and how foul humours cause illness, so...

I want to note with enormous, enormous gratitude to Susan James and ABC News the illustrating photo for this piece. A real child, just a child - an illustration of the reality of this disorder and the lovely children we need to save and the families that love them dearly.


  1. I just found your blog post on this article, Laura--that's my daughter. My real daughter. My real child. I also think it is a great illustration in an article that includes part of story of her illness. She asked me to provide a photo. I was fortunate to find this one.


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