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School Health Programs That Target Obesity May Cause Eating Disorders

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A US nationwide poll done by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health examined children were exposed to school based obesity prevention programs and found that nearly 30 percent of parents reported behaviors that are linked with eating disorders.

David Rosen, M.D., M.P.H., Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Psychiatry for the University of Michigan Medical School, agrees that childhood obesity is a serious problem. But he also says that, “When obesity interventions are put in place without understanding how they work and what the risks are, there can be unintended consequences. Well-intentioned efforts can go awry when children misinterpret the information they're given.

"Many of these behaviors are often dismissed as a phase, But given what we know about the association of these behaviors with the development of eating disorders and knowing that eating disorders are increasing in prevalence, they should be taken very seriously." Rosen is also Chief of Teenage and Young Adult Medicine in the Pediatric Department at the University.

They survey also found that 11 percent of parents said their children were “too physically active.” Another 7 percent said that their children were shamed at school because of what and how much they were eating.