1. The Council on Size and Weight Discrimination reports that girls are more afraid of being fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents.

  2. 35% of "normal dieters" progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders. (Shisslak and Crago, 1995)

  3. By age nine, 31% of female children reported fear of becoming fat; by age ten, 81% reported a fear of becoming fat; 51% of 9and10 year-old girls reported feeling better about themselves if they were on a diet (Mellon, Scully and Irwin, 1991)

  4. The average American woman is 5'4" tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5'11" tall and weighs 117 pounds. Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women (Smolak, 1996)

  5. 42% of 1st through 3rd-grade girls want to be thinner. (Collins, 1991)

  6. Individuals who diet are eight times more likely to develop eating disorders (Dr. L.K. George Hsu, Eating Disorders)

  7. Dieting in puberty may retard normal healthy female development and identity formation.

  8. Dieting can cause loss of muscle strength and endurance, decreased oxygen utilization, loss of muscle glycogen and blood flow to the kidneys, reduced blood volume, heart function and electrolyte imbalance. (National Anorectic Aid Society)

  9. Psychologically harmful effects of dieting include: irritability, impaired judgement and critical thinking, low self-esteem, obsessiveness, feelings of worthlessness and mood swings, including depression so severe it can lead to suicide. (National Anorectic Aid Society)

  10. 95% of all dieters regain their lost weight within 1-5 years. (Grodstein, 1996)

  11. Yo-yo dieting can increase the risk of death from heart disease by as much as 70%. (Lissner and Brownell, 1991)

  12. Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year. (Smolak, 1996)


  1. Develop compassion for yourself, your over- or undereating, and your body.

  2. Become conscious of eating patterns, emotions related to eating, bodily sensations, and the diet mentality.

  3. Listen to your body's wisdom: eat when your body is hungry eat what your body wants, stop when your body is full.

  4. Accept and honor you body exactly as it is right now.

  5. Stop talking negatively to your body and self, and begin to communicate positively.

  6. Allow yourself to feel the feelings underlying over- or undereating, fat thinking, and the diet mentality.

  7. Reparent yourself in loving, positive, nurturing ways.

  8. Practice listening to you inner voice.

  9. Get in touch with your creativity and passions. Find your calling.

  10. Live and express your truth.

  11. Trust your process.

  12. Open to receive the gifts.


  1. Educate yourself- The first step in prevention is education. Educate yourself about the causes of eating disorders. Explore your own issues regarding food and weight. Understand your role as a parent in both the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. If necessary, get professional help. Education will allow you to have both compassion and tools to support your child.

  2. Stop unnecessary dieting- Diets rarely work and dieting can be dangerous! Dieting can have serious negative health consequences, can encourage the diet/binge cycle and lead to eating disorders. Dieting also disregards the messages the body gives about hunger and fullness and does not address the cultural and psychological issues underlying eating disorders.

  3. Model self-love and acceptance- Body dissatisfaction is a precursor to eating disorders. Avoid making critical comments about your own and others' weight or body parts and model self-love and acceptance for your own body. Teach your child critical thinking about societal messages regarding the obsession with thinness and dieting.

  4. Support your child's natural physiological cues of hunger and fullness- Children and born with natural cues that tell them when to eat, what to eat, and when to stop. Rigid rules about eating can invalidate the child's physiological needs for food (e.g., "don't eat that, you'll spoil your appetite", or "clean your plate for all of the starving children in India.")

  5. Give your child the responsibility to select his/ her own foods- Children can learn to trust their own decision making about what to eat when you allow them to choose their own foods, while educating them about nutrition and teaching them to listen to how their bodies respond to different types of food. When parents give up unnecessary control and struggles over food, children many times become more willing to information to help them make good decisions for themselves.

  6. Teach self-esteem from within- Children face severe cultural pressures to conform to an unrealistic body type, and studies indicate that children's self-esteem, especially in young girls, is related to body weight and body image. To counteract this pressure it is important to teach children they are worthy, based on their inner beings, no matters what their bodies look like, and that bodies come in different shapes and sizes.

  7. Help your child identify, express, and resolve feelings- Many individuals with eating disorders use foods, dieting, or the obsession with food and weight as a calming device to cope with difficult, uncomfortable feelings such as anger, sadness or loneliness. Helping your child to identify what s/he is feeling and to express her/his feelings in a healthy way, can reduce her/his need to depend on external sources, such as food, alcohol and drugs to cope.

  8. Be an activist in your community- Work to bring comprehensive and effective prevention into your child's school.

BEYOND HUNGER: P.O. Box 151148, San Rafael, CA 94915 (415) 459-2270* www.beyondhunger.org Carol Normandi, MFCC and Laurelee Roark, CCHT, Co-Authors of It's Not About Food. Beyond Hunger Inc. is a nonprofit organization, which provides support groups, workshops and education for adults and adolescents with eating disorders

Copyright 1999 Moxie Magazine All Rights Reserved