Eating Disorders Home > Eating Disorder Prevention

According to research studies, simply knowing the risk factors for eating disorders is not enough to keep them from developing. It is important to be a positive role model for your child, especially when it comes to eating, exercising, and body image. Attempts at preventing eating disorders have the best chance of success when children are young, generally before fourth or fifth grade.

An Overview of Preventing Eating Disorders

Increasing interest and concern about eating disorders has been demonstrated in both the public and private sectors, but research into eating disorder prevention has been limited. Although many risk factors for developing eating disorders have been identified, efforts at prevention have so far been disappointing. A few research studies have attempted to intervene in high-risk groups, with mixed results.
 
Attitudes that lay the groundwork for developing eating disorders occur as early as fourth or fifth grade -- or even younger -- which makes prevention a major challenge. Better success has been accomplished in early detection and treatment of individuals with eating disorders.
 
If you are concerned about your child developing an eating disorder, consider the following tips:
 
  • Set a positive example for your child in the way you exercise and eat, as well as how you talk about body image.
  • Unless instructed by a doctor, do not limit your child's caloric intake. Do not classify foods as good or bad.
  • Encourage your child to be active as part of living a healthy lifestyle, not as a way of staying slim.
  • Show your child the importance of accepting people for who they are and not how they look.
  • Show your child that you exercise for strength and conditioning -- not to get thin.
  • Talk to your child about unrealistic images of perfection presented by the media (TV magazines, movies, etc.) and how they should not be tied to a person's self-esteem.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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