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Mothers with eating disorder history wanted for Stanford study

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Researchers from Stanford are asking moms with a history of eating disorders to participate in a study that aims to help families teach children healthy habits.

The study will test a new method that can help mothers cultivate good eating patterns in their children - as previously research suggests women with eating disorders often struggle to show children how to have healthy interactions with food.

“The data on feeding practices of mothers who have had eating disorders are very worrying,” said Shiri Sadeh-Sharvit, PhD, a visiting scholar at Stanford who is leading the new study. “These mothers are good parents who want only the best for their children, but they struggle with eating-disorder thinking. It’s something that comes and blurs their parenting.”

Participant requirements

The researchers are recruiting families with a child between the ages of 1 and 5 with a mother who has a history of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorder.

They study will last 16 weeks, during which the Stanford team will meet with families and communicate about teaching children healthy ways to eat and relate to food. The team will also help mothers identify how the mother's unique eating disorder history might be affecting her children's habits.

“For one mom, this might mean adding another slice of bread at dinner. For another, it might mean practicing her ability to not say anything to her child about her fears that the child might become overweight,” Sadeh-Sharvit said

The hypothesis

The researchers speculate that when parents put less pressure on children to eat too little or too much, the children will take more responsibility for their own hunger.

Families who want to participate in the study can contact Sadeh-Sharvit at 650-497-4949 or email shiri_sade@yahoo.com for further information.

Source: Stanford University