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Preventing Negative Body Image and Eating Disorders We live in a society that is extremely pre-occupied by body image where we are bombarded everyday about how we should look, how we should dress, how we should act. We hope that if we understand more about how to resist some of these pressures, we can feel better about our bodies and can all work together to promote a healthier social environment that can decrease at least some of the risk factors that can lead to problems like eating disorders.

Preventing Negative Body Image and Eating Disorders

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Preventing Negative Body Image and Eating Disorders. We live in a society that is extremely pre-occupied by body image where we are bombarded everyday about how we should look, how we should dress, how we should act. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • Preventing Negative Body Image and Eating DisordersWe live in a society that is extremely pre-occupied by body image where we are bombarded everyday about how we should look, how we should dress, how we should act. We hope that if we understand more about how to resist some of these pressures, we can feel better about our bodies and can all work together to promote a healthier social environment that can decrease at least some of the risk factors that can lead to problems like eating disorders.

  • Amongst American high school students, 44% of the females and 15% of the males were attempting to lose weight, and 28% of the males were attempting to gain weight by building muscles50% of American women are on a diet at any one timeBetween 90% and 99% of fat reducing diets fail to produce permanent weight loss2/3 of dieters will regain the weight within a year. Virtually all will regain it within five years75% of American women are dissatisfied with their weight.So are 41% of American men.

  • There are three main types of eating disorders:Bulimia AnorexiaBinge Eating

  • Frequent episodes of BINGE-EATINGA rapid and sometimes automatic consumption of food in a discrete period of timeA feeling of LACK OF CONTROLPowerlessness felt during the binge, often followed by an anxiety about anticipated weight gain and mood swingsRecurrent PURGINGAttempts to undo the effect of the binge by dangerous methods like self-induced vomiting, diet pills, excessive exercise, and/or laxatives or diureticsFrequent, intense, and DISTORTED CONCERNS ABOUT SHAPE AND WEIGHTIncluding: a conviction that body shape and weight are crucial factors determining self-esteem, and a strong drive for thinness and a fear of fat.

  • Warning Signs of Bulimia NervosaThe chances of recovery increase the earlier Bulimia is detected. Therefore it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs--you could be in the position to really help someone!Possible evidence of BINGE-EATING:Appears to eat large amounts of food (esp. high calorie food) without gaining weightLarge amounts of food purchased or shop-liftedEvidence of SELF-INDUCED VOMITING:Catching the person in the actLeaves the table immediately after eating and goes to the bathroom. Glands under the jaw are swollen.Evidence of PURGING:Enthusiastic discussion of ways to eat a lot without gaining any weight. Possession of large amounts of laxatives or diureticsUnexplainable paleness and complaints of dizzinessUnexplainable muscle cramps, or heart and kidney problems that are unusual for teenagers

  • Unhealthy body image can start at an early age.

  • ANOREXIA NERVOSAMajor characteristics might include:Extreme and irrational fear of becoming fatStrong determination to become increasingly thinnerSignificant weight loss Distorted perception of body shape Difficulty in accurately interpreting and managing hunger and other internal impulses like angerAbnormal hormonal functioningIn females: absence of 3 or more menstrual cyclesIn males: significant lowering of sexual function and desire (due to lowered levels of testosterone)

  • BINGE EATING DISORDERSeveral primary symptoms:Frequent episodes of of eating large quanitties of food in short periods of time often secretly, without regard to feelings of hunger or fullnessFeeling of being out of control during bingesEating food rapidly without really tasting itEating aloneFeelings of shame, disgust, or guilt after a binge

  • Causes of Binge Eating:Research is still being done on binge-eatingdisorder, but doctors estimate that about25% of obese individuals suffer from frequent episodes of binge eating. More and more research shows that a chemical imbalance in the eating centers of the brain may be responsible. Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT an issue of will power.People suffering from binge-eating disorder can be either average or above average weight.Binge-eaters often express distress, shame, and guilt over their eating disorder. Many have a history of depression.

  • What Causes Eating Disorders?

  • Social FactorsCultural pressures that glorify thinness and place value on obtaining the perfect bodyNarrow definitions of beauty that include only women and men of specific body types and weightsCultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengthsPsychological FactorsLow self-esteemFeelings of inadequacy or lack of control in lifeDepression, anxiety, anger, or lonelinessInterpersonal FactorsTroubled family or personal relationshipsDifficulty expressing emotions or feelingsHistory of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weightHistory of physical or self-abuseBiological FactorsScientists are still researching possible biochemical and biological causes of eating disorders. In some individuals with eating disorders, certain chemicals in the brain that control hunger, appetite, and digestion have been found to be imbalanced. The exact meaning and implications of these imbalances remains under investigation.

  • Men must be: lean muscular broad shouldered narrow through waist and hipsMen are under growing pressure to conform to impossible body standards. The body proportions set out by the artificial ideal are as impossible to meet as the Barbie standards set for women. Because of this societal pressure, we are seeing a growing number of men who are unhappy with their bodies.41% of all males in the US report being dissatisfied with their weight.Many of these men would like to lose weight but a significant portion of them would like to gain muscle.

  • Prevention: Working TogetherMales need to be part of the prevention effort

    They can help to change societal ideals and minimize the pressures to conform to impossible weight ideals, not only for themselves but also for women.

  • Societal Weight Prejudice (Weightism)Thin is good, beautiful, moral, powerfulFat is ugly, lazy, sloppy, morally weak, undesirableStyle, impression, and image > substance and characterYour appearance (weight, shape) is the most important thing about youThere is a strong social message that somehow thin is good and fat is bad. We are taught to judge a persons character by how they look physically.In Western cultures, slenderness is a criterion for attractiveness, success, control, and being good. This is particularly true for women. Muscular bodies are criteria for strong, mature, and capable men.Fat and overweight people are judged as ugly, a failure, out of control, lazy, and responsible for their own badness.These irrational judgments are a form of prejudice and discrimination, just as racism and bigotry are. The prejudice against fat and toward thinness is called weightism and is an unfair and sad aspect of our culture.

  • An important part of an individuals self-concept is body image.

    Visual Component: How you see yourself when you look in the mirrorWith poor body image, you might have a distorted, unrealistic perception of your shape. You might perceive parts of your body as larger or smaller than they actually are

    Mental Component: What you believe and think about your appearance.With poor body image, you might believe yourself to be ugly or unattractive because you are convinced that only certain types of features are attractive. Or you believe that what you like is irrelevant, and all that matters are the characteristics of which others approve.

    Emotional Component: How you feel about your body, including your height, weight, and shape.With poor body image, the combination of your distorted perceptions and your self-rejecting ideals leads you to feel ashamed, self-conscious, and anxious about your body.

    Kinesthetic Component: How you feel in your body, not just about your body.With poor body image, you might not feel comfortable in your body. You do not express yourself with and through your body, for example in sports or dance.

  • ROLE OF THE MEDIAOne thing we can learn to do is fight the messages sent to us by the media industryMedia messages like advertising and celebrity spotlights more and more are defining what is beautiful and what is good. If we buy into their unrealistic ideals, we give the media great power over our self-esteem and body image.A study of 4,294 network television commercials revealed that 1 out of every 3.8 commercials send some sort of attractiveness message, telling viewers what is or is not attractive. These researchers estimate that the average adolescent sees over 5,260 attractiveness messages per year. Often the goal of these messages is to make you viewers feel inadequate so that they will buy products to fix their problems.

  • TIPS FOR BECOMING CRITICAL VIEWERS OF THE MEDIA Advertisers create their message based on what they think you will want to see and what they think will affect you and compel you to buy this product. Just because they think their approach will work with people like you doesnt mean it has to work with you as an individual. RECOMMENDATIONS for COMBATTING EATING DISORDERS

    Dont look at body magazines, look at REAL women.Athletics: Focus on what your body can do rather than how it looks.Fight weightism. Its a form of bigotry, intolerance, prejudice and is socially unjust.Develop perspective. What really matters? Its not just about looks.


  • PRINCIPLES OF PREVENTIONEvery student can play a role in prevention. We all can help promote an environment which is respectful and resists social pressures to be thin. Prevention and treatment are not just a female issue or a youth issuethey are a community issue that involves boys and men, as well as girls and women, in many ways.A job for everyone

  • What To Say to a FriendSet a time to talk privately where you wont be interrupted

    Avoid placing shame, blame or guilt

    Avoid giving simple solutions.

    Express your continued support and let them know you care about them. This is the most important thing you can do. Then be patient. It takes time, it isnt easy. You are not trying to cure them. You are helping them through difficult times, being a true friend in a time of need.

  • 1. Be sensitive to shame...It can look like defensiveness and denial.WHAT TO DO: STEP BY STEP2. Focus on emotions, stress, isolationnot on appearance and weight. They already worry too much about both.3. Focus on what is going on for your friend emotionally.Express your concerns using I statements rather than you statements.I am worried about you.Is there anything I can do to help you?I dont like it when we act as if nothing is wrong, because my sense is that something is very wrong.4. Avoid lecturing about the medical dangers of eating disorders. It will likely backfire.5. One conversation is rarely enough. Repeated connection and nonjudgmental listening is usually needed for a person to feel safe enough to actually talk about what is going on and then do something about it.Encourage your friends to get help, but dont force them.

  • Loving Supportive FriendsAlways Help

  • Some DOs in Reaching OutSpeak to the person in private

    Tell them how you feelTell them what specifically has made you concernedLet them have time to respondListen carefully and nonjudgementally

  • Some DONTs in Reaching OutDont speak to an adult with out speaking to the person whom youre concerned aboutDont give advice about appearanceDont confront the person with a group of peopleDont diagnoseDont get into an argumentDont be judgmental

  • Private PractitionersFree Community Eating Disorders Support GroupWeb SitesOvereaters AnonymousBooksTeachers, Counselors, School Nurse

  • ConclusionsNever doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, its the only thing that ever has.

    Margaret Mead

    Handout and in your handbook for private clinicians