Educators, take the blinkers off

Educators, take the blinkers off

With Australia’s first national eating disorder conference for families only 13 months away (May 23-25, Brisbane; can’t come soon enough), it is worth watching this Channel Seven Morning Show segment to know what the eating disorder field is up against in education in Australia. If ever there was any doubt that Australia needs an eating disorder conference for the general population, it has been swept away by events of the past week.
There is cause for great concern about the state of our society when people in power are blinded by ‘money’; when a person’s success is judged by how much money they make for a company. The reality is it is dangerous to be selectively ignorant. Let’s take the blinkers off and put lives first. Profit second. I am particularly concerned (understatement) that the AGSA vice-president spokeswoman clearly states in the Channel Seven Morning Show interview that the Jenny Craig CEO, Amy Smith, is at liberty to talk about diets and weight at the upcoming conference for leading educators.

Doesn’t she know that weight loss companies ‘feed’ eating disorder triggers? Doesn’t she know that anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness? Does she know that eating disorders are a serious illness, not a choice? Does she know that right now, families are living nightmares, trying to cope in caring for loved ones with eating disorders? Does she know that many highly professional women, who may look just like Amy Smith, have a secret they are too ashamed to share  – they suffer an eating disorder that impacts on their happiness, every hour of every day. Does she know that most people who have an eating disorder look just like her? ‘Normal”? Does she know that eating disorders are an illness in the brain? Looking at her smile throughout the interview, I have to wonder.

Let’s more on to a more positive issue, which encouragingly has been inspired by the Jenny Craig petition

EDV CEO Jennifer Beveridge spoke with MP Jenny Mikakos (representing NorthernMetropolitan) last night prior to putting forward a question in Victoria’s State Parliament, urging more funding for youth. Jennifer says in email: Interestingly, it was the AGSA inspired media that reminded Ms Mikakos of the issue.
The bottom line is that governments as well as schools are not doing enough to promote greater self-esteem and a healthy body image amongst young people. Negative body image can impact on children’s confidence and wellbeing and lead to serious mental health problems, self-harm and eating disorders. According to Mission Australia’s national survey of young Australians aged 11 to 24 conducted last year, body image ranked as one of the top three issues of concern for young people nationally and in State of Victoria. In 2011, 33.2 per cent of young Victorians considered body image as their top personal concern. This issue has been increasing as an issue of concern over the last five years this survey has been conducted.

Diets and weight cycling are NOT the answer. We need programs that help people of all shapes and sizes to nurture their feelings. Do this properly, and food and weight cease to be an issue.

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