May 28 2010
The first lady has kicked off a national campaign that charges young Americans to "get up and move," changing the life goals of the newest generation. While the campaign and message are a strong effort, a national epidemic can only be changed with a personal choice to live better. It all starts with one parent, one effort, to take the time to live healthier, to want your children to live healthier. It's more than the number on a scale; it's a way of life.
"Children are young, impressionable individuals echoing the behaviors of their older generation role models," said Kimberly Dennis, M.D., Medical Director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, a leader in treatment for anorexia nervosa, bulimia, compulsive overeating and binge eating disorders. "Kids follow by example and unhealthy lifestyles from a guiding counterpart can set a precedent for how they are to act in the future, but so can the way we speak to our children about their bodies. Healthy eating is not something that should be stressed once the number on a scale reaches a high level, but for all children at all body sizes."
It is up to parents to set the example while kids are young and continue to instill good nutritional advice on them. By instilling these values in children at early ages, they are better setting up their children for a life of good, healthy choices. "Maintaining a healthy weight and learning to make the right choices is a lifestyle," said Dr. Dennis. "It is up to the individual, or in a child's case their care giver, to employ those lifestyle practices. That is how we will change this generation."
When eating habits are changed because parents feel their children's weight has reached a high level, this can cause disordered eating. Over time, as this continues, it reinforces this disordered eating behavior which can develop into an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.
"This kind of behavior is usually associated with serious physical and emotional health problems," said Dr. Dennis. "As a society, we rely too much on weight as the be-all-end-all of health matters, but there is so much more to it. We must return to a healthy relationship with food, which will open up the door to a healthier body image for all and a better, more promising future for our children."
SOURCE Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center