Promoting positive self-esteem is crucial to tackling eating disorders

Speaking on the eve of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which kicks off tomorrow (Monday), Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said that promoting positive self-esteem and body image in young women and men is key to getting to grips with bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders.

“Airbrushed images of models whose Body Mass Index is clearly in the anorexic range, adorn the pages of our magazines. This has a detrimental impact on everyone, including those who are comfortable with their body shape and image.

“Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average American woman; today she weighs 23% less. Despite the fact that positive moves have been made in the modelling industry with the rise in the number of plus size models, more needs to be done to safeguard against the promotion of such unattainable body size and weight and the impact it is having on our children.

“Organisations such as Bodywise, which carries out extensive and effective advocacy work in this area, reported in excess of 3,000 calls last year. However, official figures on the prevalence of eating disorders are largely undocumented, with a significant number of cases going unreported and therefore untreated each year. This leads to a dearth of knowledge on the numbers suffering with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Only those unfortunate enough to require hospitalisation are recorded.

“Figures presented in the Third Annual Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services Report demonstrate that the number of people being admitted for treatment is significant. It is incumbent upon us all to address this issue, ensuring that positive self-esteem and body image is encouraged in our children and young people and that we get to grips once and for all with bulimia, anorexia and all eating disorders.”

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