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Anorexia Among The Very Young

With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

Children as young as five, being treated for anorexia. We’re exploring the subtle causes and treatments that can save lives.

“Anorexia can strike and kill as early as kindergarten.” The headline left us breathless.   Hype, we wondered? Then we started to call around and do the research.  That’s when it got a whole lot scarier. The numbers of young children requiring hospitalization keeps going up. Girls and boys. They refuse to eat. Exercise compulsively. Say they are “too fat. “

Everyone says our thin-obsessed culture sends the wrong message.  But few thought such young children would be so vulnerable.

This hour, On Point: Anorexia in children. Subtle causes and treatments that can save lives.


Kaylin Ohler, now 24 years old, she was first diagnosed with anorexia in fourth grade. She works part-time on the eating disorders unit at Omaha Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Jennifer Hagman, program director of the Eating Disorders Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado.

From the Reading List

ABC News “Sophie started starving herself in kindergarten, giving up sweets at first, then taking smaller and smaller portions of food. She exercised compulsively on the monkey bars.”

Omaha World-Herald “Her struggle started at an age when most kids are busy playing house and learning to color inside the lines. As a kindergartener, she was already busy comparing herself to the other girls in her class. When she was in fourth grade, Ohler’s school taught students about nutrition and eating well. She didn’t learn to eat well, though. She learned to diet because, in her mind, ‘being overweight and being bigger was undesirable and unacceptable.’”

CNN “Swimming outdoors, playing with the family pet and enjoying an ice cream cone — that is the summer life of a typical 9-year-old girl. Not for Sarah Smith. As a child, Smith (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy) formed habits that would eventually lead her to develop both bulimia and anorexia nervosa, both of which she is still dealing with today.”

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  • bmchan

    Have you seen the Debbie Boone ad for Life Style Lift?  I want to send her a Care package.  How about most female news anchors.  We are conditioning an entire generation to starve themselves.  Sad. They don’t see how sickly and undernourished they appear.

  • 2Gary2

    I think real skinny people look sickly.  What ever happened to just average size people?  When I was a kid 1970′s there was one fat kid and one average weight kid who was a diabetic in my entire high school class (over 200 people)  The rest of us (me included ) were just average size people.

    Yes I will admit very fat people look bad but so do real skinny people.

    • kaylin129

      I think we all need to learn to embrace natural beauty and accept that we are all different shapes, sizes, heights, and everything else. I don’t feel there should be a word “ugly” “Fat” or “Skinny.” Those are such nasty labels. Now if only society would feel the same way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/irvwestyouthadvocate Irv West

    Perhaps it is time to return to teaching kids to feel good about themselves as they are. We have deteriorated into an overly image conscious society, and it is leaching out to our young.

    • J__o__h__n

      Why are two thirds of Americans overweight or obese then? 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        I submit that that’s a whole ‘nother show, dealing with malnutrition (the actual “mal”, meaning “bad”, rather than the old meaning of “simply not enough calories.)

        • J__o__h__n

          My reply was in response to the claim that people should “feel good about themselves as they are.”  People should try to aim for a healthy realistic body but two thirds of the population shouldn’t feel good about how they are. 

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Yes, I understand that, but we are dealing with two sets of people here, each with their own non-transferable problems.

            I mean, if someone goes into physical therapy for a broken bone, and another after back surgery (ruptured disk), they need different things.

          • J__o__h__n

            I agree but often the focus on dealing with these eating disorders are not narrowly targeted but with the everybody is fine message.

          • kaylin129

            And that is what this show was about, saying that it isn’t okay to be struggling but that it can be okay and that hope is possible. So much awareness needs to continue to happen but at least people are beginning to take steps. But, they have to continue.

      • kaylin129

        A lot of it is because of higher rates of depression, I feel. Many people who are obsese may deal with their emotions through food. BUT, that is a general thought. Others may not be getting enough exercise or just don’t make time. We live in a super-size me world and fast food has become “the easy option.” People need to make time to care for themselves. People are always in such a hurry and then they are the ones to suffer … health problems weight gain, etc etc. So much goes into this. Many people who are overweight have health issues too. I think anyone who calls an heavier person nasty words like “lazy” are just cruel and that should never be said because that is just a label.

    • kaylin129

      Yes yes yes!!! We need this to be a part of school programs!

  • Unterthurn

    The kids that I know have eating problems to the point of hospitalization have mothers who appear anorexic themselves. Is this more of a family problem? Are adults allowing the media to influence them and then passing this on to their offspring?

    • lillianmom

       You need to educate yourself with latest research!
      Anorexia is a brain disorder with biological basis. :(

      • atty4peace

        Haven’t read what you’re talking about, but this wasn’t a problem 100 years ago. When my sister was diagnosed at 19, (1980) most psychiatrists didn’t really know what it was. If it were a brain disorder like ADHD or schizophrenia, people would have had this years ago. Cancer killed people thousands of years ago; we know it’s a biological disease. Anorexia was unheard of and rarely, if ever seen prior to 1963 when Twiggy became the rage and her thinness never left the social stage. I’d be interested in reading your studies that show this is a biologically based disease.

        • lillianmom

           It is only last decade or so that some research is focused on this life threatening disorder, that has been in existence for centuries (since 16th century). Larger clinical trials are still few and far in between. There is wealth of information on association of national eating disorider anad.org, MEDA and the likes.

        • Lisa Williams

          For an excellent discussion on the scientific aetiology of ED read Decoding Anorexia, by Carrie Arnold. Decoding Anorexia is the first and only book to explain anorexia
          nervosa from a biological point of view. Its clear, user-friendly descriptions
          of the genetics and neuroscience behind the disorder is paired with first person
          descriptions and personal narratives of what biological differences mean to
          sufferers. Author Carrie Arnold, a trained scientist, science writer, and past
          sufferer of anorexia, speaks with clinicians, researchers, parents, other family
          members, and sufferers about the factors that make one vulnerable to anorexia,
          the neurochemistry behind them

        • henry woodside

          I am sorry your sister had AN. I understand because my brother did as well. Dx at in 1968, relapsed 1980.

          Eating disorders are inherited illness: 50-80% of the risk is genetic*

          The head of the US NIMH refers to anorexia nervosa as a brain disorder.

          Here is the science: The Minnesota Semi Starvation Study/; Studies show that people undergoing malnutrition display similar behaviors and thoughts to eating disorder patients

    • Lisa Williams

      this is just completely innacurate and not reflective of scientific research which indicates this a brain disorder. Mothers do not look more alike than mothers of autistic children or schizophrenics.

    • kaylin129

      I feel this is just a label and just needs more understanding and education. While eating disorders do run in families, it doesn’t always happen. I am the only one throughout the generations that has battled. I have a friend who died at the age of 19 and her mother struggles with an eating disorder but the other two sisters do not. There is so much that goes into the causes of eating disorders and many are still being researched. We are affected by many things and it may be different for everyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bkort Barry Kort

    Have you seen the image comparing the Victoria’s Secret “Love My Body Campaign” to Dove Chocolate’s “Real Beauty Campaign”?

    • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen


      • Acnestes

         Dove SOAP!

        • http://www.facebook.com/bkort Barry Kort

          Oops.  Thanks.  I fixed it.  :)

    • Acnestes

       It’s Dove SOAP, not Dove chocolate!

      • http://www.facebook.com/bkort Barry Kort

        Thanks.  I have fixed it.  :)

    • ensteph

       The ones in the bottom row look healthier and happier!

  • ToddBurger

    North Shore Medical Center in Salem, MA has a program that addresses anorexia in pre-teens

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Miserable, unhappy, dissatisfied people buy lots of stuff – and marketers know that. These kids are just collateral damage in the quest for profit.

  • stillin

    Somewhere I read anorexia is related to not wanting to grow up, which symbolically means, not wanting to age. Given all the very, very, thin, horrible looking young teachers and bosses I see around my workplace, I have to concur with that thought.

    • AC

      i thought it had something to do with being ‘pure’ or ‘holy’. like the statues of christ on a cross with his ribs showing and stomach sunk in…
      tho that doesnt explain buddha….

    • Christy Hagan

      My struggle with my weight was about gaining control at a time in my life that I felt I had none. As a child I felt insecure due to my mother’s drug addictions and lifestyle. By controling what I ate – or how little – I gained back a sense of security. When it became obvious that I had weight issues, my family would tell me to eat something. My response “You can’t make me, I am in control”.

      • kaylin129

        Yes, control is a huge thing. Even if it doesn’t start out that way or you don’t understand that is what is happening, it definitely is. Unfortunately, you do not gain more control, it has more control over you. I hope you can find security in God and that he made you unique and just as you are meant to be and he wants you to love and accept you as he does.

    • Lisa Williams

      this is completely false and contradictory to the lates scientific research which indicates anorexia is a brain disorder. Children falling into nutritional instability is due to energy deficit with multiple causes, illness, increased athletic training at young age.

      • stillin

        I’m just saying what I THINK it’s related to, my human experience, you can go with the scientific research, no prob. I ‘ll go with what I see.

        • anne55

          The problem with going with what you see is that it can be erroneous.  If something as deadly as anorexia nervosa is viewed as a choice, rather than as a complex brain illness, it puts the responsibility for making the choice to get well again on very ill, or very young, people that often are in denial (denial is another feature of this illness as well).  Because of this, too many people die.  And too many families go un or under supported, or at the worst, blamed.  The only way to tackle illnesses is from a research perspective.  That’s what I’d want if I were suffering from any other illness (cancer, heart disease).  It ought be the standard with mental illnesses as well.

          • stillin

            I find your perspective very interesting, and I respect it…I believe in metaphysics and the big link between what the belief is, and how it creates the diss ease..I see how research is also helpful, but in my opinion, core belief dictates health.
            Subject: [on-point] Re: Anorexia Among The Very Young

          • kaylin129

            It should be a standard with illnesses. Insurance companies do not see it as this. They see it more as a choice and that it isn’t a mental illness. Even with the research and death rates. So closed minded! It truly isn’t a choice. I would not wish this upon my worst enemy. It is pure hell and I am so grateful I am on the other side of it after 16 years. I pray that same thing for others and pray that someday eating disorders will be treated equally.

    • kaylin129

      People do not choose to have eating disorders because they do not want to age. That is a huge myth running around out there. Are people afraid to get older? Yes. Some are. They turn to plastic surgery and botox injections. Many celebrities do have eating disorders but they are no different in why it affects them. It may be biological, to gain control, to numb feelings, to find acceptance, because of the pressures to always look good, you name it. They are human just like us. Hollywood does not send a good message, we know that. But that is why it is our job to promote what is beautiful and healthy, off the screen.

  • AC

    i rarely watch tv, but when i do, there is ALWAYS one or more diet pills, diet clubs, gym clubs or exercise equipment commercials. i do watch a lot of news & every other day, there are special reports on ‘new studies’ dealing with the ‘unhealthy & growing obesity’ problem in the country.
    i don’t think i would have been prone to anorexia if exposed to this as a child, but for sure i would have known exactly what i DIDNT want – to be fat!

    • J__o__h__n

      Shouldn’t the sugary cereal and soda ads counteract that? 

      • AC

        that’s a good point, i don’t really know what types of commercials air on kid shows….

    • kaylin129

      There are far too many diet ads but unfortunately that is never going to change. I think that when those ads are on we need to flip them for our children or discuss them, depending on what they are. We are affected more than we think by the things we hear. We cannot keep kids or ourselves in bubbles, but it is important to have open communication and be aware of our surroundings.

  • http://twitter.com/smokingpancake Elaine Ashton

    I know a mom down the street with a 4yo girl who talks about putting the girl on a diet when she looks a little ‘pudgy’ if she’s had too many sweets. And a mom of a girl in KG who talks rather critically about her daughter liking food too much in front of her (and the girl is a bit soft, but in no way in need of a diet). 

    I’m sure the problem is a complex one, but young children get their most influence from their parents and, so, if they’re already being subjected to diets and ridicule at 4 and 6 years old, how could they not develop unhealthy relationships with food?

    I might also add I had a similar mother back in the day when fat kids wore ‘husky’ clothes and I had an eating disorder in high school. If I can spare my own daughter that particular pain I would be elated, but somehow I think the obsession on looks/body image has only gotten worse over time and may be much more difficult to avoid than I’d hope.

    • pam60

      Some of the patients I worked with told stories of how shaming it was to them when their parents criticized their size, restricted food items, etc.  Ideally, the parents would look at their own behaviors first & try to model a realistic & healthy lifestyle.  Again, this doesn’t have to mean extremes.

    • kaylin129

      This is so sad to me because these are the girls who grow up not feeling unconditionally loved, who have poor self-esteems, and having eating disorders or other issues. Children go through stages with their weight, hello! They are growing. Right? Parents play a huge part and much of their own feelings and upbrining rubs off on their own children. It is my hope that parents can become more aware of themselves and start becoming better role models if they are not. Otherwise, they are a part of the problem rather than the solution. Thank you for your share.


    Unfortunate but not new-I remember trying to restrict my diet even in third grade and becoming obsessed with counting how much fat and calories I consumed, avoiding food before going to birthday parties. I wish I could say that this problem has subsided.

    • kaylin129

      I am sorry that you have not found freedom, but I believe you still can! Never too late.

  • katt428

    I developed anorexia at age 10.  I had written in my diary around this time, “if i am thin and beautiful my life will be so much better.”
    I realized at this age that thinness was equated with beauty, but I also believe that the issue was much more equated to me trying to gain control in my life.  I had a significant amount of trauma in my early childhood and having a tangible goal of weight and exercise to base my world around felt so much safer to me..where success and happiness was based on restricting my food.
    I spent almost 10 years in an eating disorder but am now recovered and feel so grateful.  The grips of the disease are incredibly painful, encompassing and dark. 

    • pam60

      I am thrilled that you’re shedding the “black cloth” an ED provides.  Keep your chin up!  I’m sure you’re an inspiration for others that felt the grips you have.

    • kaylin129

      So proud of you. I know the challenge that it is. But you have done it. Keep pressing on my dear!

  • http://twitter.com/johannaskandel Johanna Kandel

    there is life beyond eating disorders. people can and do recover.  for support, information, referrals, etc. please contact the alliance for eating disorders awareness at http://www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com. 
    a great resource for those battling and recovering (as well as for parents) is life beyond your eating disorder by johanna kandel

  • viacarrozza

    This question is for the doctor: Is there a component of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at work here?  Does medication help ?

  • Julia Gandrud

    My 7 year old daughter has started saying she won’t eat fat, after seeing her cousins saying that, and her grandmother, and now, after seeing her best friend (who struggles with weight) and her best friend’s mother saying they won’t eat animals, she has decided to become vegetarian in a non-vegetarian family. I have an anorexic sister and an anorexic mother, and I am worried for these girls. What do I do?

    • pam60

      What a nightmare.  I suggest you check out the alliance for eating disorders site mentioned previously as well as looking up the national eating disorders association online.  Somehow, you have risen above the EDs surrounding you.  You can’t “fix” those around you but I encourage you to be a positive role model for your daughter & help her understand what a healthy balance is. 

    • kaylin129

      Hello, this is Kaylin speaking. I highly suggest that you begin some intervention and speak to someone. She is at a very high risk of also struggling with an eating disorder and early treatment and recognition is the best thing you can do. Also having open communication with her and talking with her to understsand why she feels this way. I would not force things upon her because she will resist and it will become a control battle. But please, talk to someone. Best of luck to you.

  • JBK007

    I hope at some point you’ll discuss the negative influence of the fashion industry in promoting thinness as a way to be fashionable, pretty etc. rather than bash the anti-obesity campaign being carried on in our country, which does need it for health reasons.

  • J__o__h__n

    Why not teach children to not be sheep instead of trying to control the message?

  • Rae Borecky

    listening to this show breaks my heart. i began my battle with eating disorders in my late teens, with lots of family support. its something tht i still struggle with on a daily basis, as most people who have ever had eating issues do. i cant imagine fighting an eating disorder as a child. Knowing how our food system and culture are stacking the decks against children today in terms of food issues, both anorexia and obesity shows me that we need to take steps to change. The FDA needs to change its message and schools need to alter how its taught. this issue is something we can change. 

    • kaylin129

      It is such a chalenge Rae! And I am sorry that you still struggle with it today but I pray you are continuing to fight for the freedom that you deserve. There is a lot of pressure in our society and it is never going to stop. BUT, I still believe that light can continue to be shed on this and that chains can be broken. I am not backing down from raising awareness. That I do know. And you too, keep fighting.

  • Lisa Williams

    Children’s hospital at colorado provides the latest in evidence based research and treatment to the most vulnerable pediatric patients. With early and aggressive evidence based treatment the youngest stand an excellent chance to go into adolescence unfettered by this insidious illness. Thank you to Dr. Hagman for  the work she does….

  • http://www.facebook.com/jo.king.370 Jo King

    As the recovery process is the same for alcoholism, drug addiction and eating and other “disorders,” I have come to believe the all of these issues have OCD as the root cause. Looking for explanations then misses the primary point and delays effective treatment. There are real solutions to treating OCD (not medication) with 12 Step programs. Works. It really does.

    • anne55

      There are also, in my mind, some pretty big differences.  For one, you are dealing with a food issue.  In this case, food is medicine and you cannot avoid food and live.  You can (and should) avoid alcohol and drugs if you’ve a problem with them.  You need neither to survive.  For a second, most people with substance abuse issues are teens or adults.  We are talking about either very young kids here or adolescents.  I don’t think a 12-step approach is appropriate for this population, although I do know some older folks with ED’s that say it has helped them.  I’d never through the baby out with the bath.  You are right that OCD can sometimes be a co-morbid condition, but not always.  There are possible links to a number of conditions being explored at this time.

    • kaylin129

      There are components of OCD with eating disorders. Definitely. But, I do not believe OCD is the culprit that leads to it. While 12 step programs are wonderful for many, they are not a help to everyone.

  • susanrohrbach

    I am wondering if this has something to do with the rise of helicopter parents.  I always thought that anorexia had to do with control issues, and it seems to me that some young children’s lives are so controlled that refusing to eat might be one of the few ways they can rebel.

    • kaylin129

      I believe control does play a part, but I also know that it is much more than that too. As more research is done I hope that more light is shed.

    • Lisa Williams

      The latest scientific reseasch indicates that AN is a highly heritable brain disorder. For the latest information on successful treatment go to Feast-ed.org

  • http://www.facebook.com/drpmeade Paul S Meade

    I’m hearing something that concerns me: It seems like you’re blaming the messenger ( the health class teacher who is trying to promote a healthy lifestyle) and de-emphasizing the possible underlying psychological component that may make an individual susceptible to what are suggestions for healthy eating.

    Are you suggesting that we stop promoting healthy eating habits in an attempt to prevent childhood anorexia?

    • pam60

      Tough issue here because not all “educators” deliver an appropriate message about a healthy lifestyle.  I truly believe we need to go back to the basics, encouraging a variety of foods & nutrients as well as activity on a regular basis…NOT focus on calories, but energy, nourishment. When adults start labelling food as bad (e.g. sugar or fat), it trickles down to our kids & they may not be able to process the info in an appropriate way.  I’ve seen some real distortion with the messages.  Again, back to the basics rather than constantly searching for a quick fix to make us thinner, attractive, etc.  As a registered dietitian of 27 years, I’ve disappointed many by encouraging this as well as behavior change, changes that one can embrace for a lifetime.

      • anne55

        Until we have a good way to screen for the risk of ED’s, I think educators need to be aware of the possibility that too much information in the mind of a young, sensitive and often anxious child can do more harm than good.  We don’t have really good prevention programs at this point.  It should probably be routine at every child’s doctor’s appt to state if ED’s are part of a family’s history and, if there is a family history of it, then as a parent I’d want to talk with my child’s health educator (sorry for the run-on sentence!).  I’d want to see the health curriculum.  I’d take it from there.  For me, much would depend on my particular child.  Knowing what I know now, I would have pulled my daughter–who was indeed exhibiting signs of anxiety bordering on depression, worries about healthy eating, etc.

        • kaylin129

          I like what you  had to say Anne55. All of society needs to be more aware and schools need to do a better job at being educated and ESPECIALLY health teachers/PE coaches. That is where much of the information is coming from and while it is meant with good intentions, it causes great harm. I am glad you are aware of your daughters needs!

      • kaylin129

        Proper training and education definitely needs to happen. The messages that are often being given are meant with good intention but end up causing more harm than anything. Thank you for your post and comment.

    • kaylin129

      Definitely not! I believe the point is being lost here. It is not helpful for a PE teacher to tell someone that they need to run this much or they are going to get fat. It is not okay for a PE teacher to tell a young child that they are fat. It is no okay to tell kids that they should not eat this foods because it will make them fat. None of these are okay. It needs to be a holistic approach and it needs to be about moderation. What needs to happen is that they focus on inner health as well because you can look as great as ever on the outside and feeling terrible on the inside. I appreciate your comment and believe you raised some good questsions. I just feel there needs to be more training provided in these areas.

  • ToyYoda

    I hope these people get the help that they need.

  • J__o__h__n

    Certain alleged foods like soda are definately bad.  Quality of food matters as much as quantity. 

  • anne55

    In reply to Susan re: helicopter parenting. No.  This is a common myth.  Anorexia arises for a number of reasons, anxiety and weight loss (which can occur for any number of reasons…illness, worry, a comment, a move) set it in motion in those that are genetically susceptible. Read the Minnesota Starvation study online.  Very interesting.  Parents of kids with anorexia come in ALL types, just as do parents of kids with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, JRA, diabetes.  There isn’t a standard “parent” type.  Even subtle parent blame can stop parents from taking effective action to get evidenced based help when it is most needed.  I always think to myself, when a child has cancer fund-raisers are held and the community comes together to support a family.  When a child has anorexia (also a too-often chronic or even fatal illness) often no one in the neighborhood knows about it or is there to help.  There is still too much shame around this particular illness. 

    In addition. this show is about very young children. Most parents are appropriately more involved with very young children.

    • Lisa Williams

      excellent response anne55

    • kaylin129

      Thanks for your share, again anne55. I feel you have some great points here!

  • JanaHod

    There’s so much focus on the various messages about food and body that impact a child’s relationship with eating.  This always strikes me as an important, but superficial level of analyzing eating disorders.  Low self-worth was mentioned as a core cause, but why does low self-worth happen?  Starving oneself is a despairing act.  Despair happens when one has lost hope, because one has lost control.
    Children have very little control over their lives.  Deciding what goes into their bodies every day is one very powerful, attainable realm that is under their control.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A4AJ576QV77QBCZ75OX7N2OQRI pog

    I think it is simple.  The conversation around a child’s dinner table needs to be that food is good and we need to eat food. However, the grocery store is full of things which are not food – I am talking about factory made multi ingredient products.  Sugar is a real problem.  John below is right – he sure is correct.  Good food is not mainstraim in this country – that is the issue.

  • anne55

    Replying to John about teaching children not to be sheep: Once set in motion by a weight loss for any number of reasons, this isn’t a simple choice. It is an illness involving the brain.  You can’t just wish yourself out of it easily.

    • Lisa Williams

      the latest evidence based reseach shows that maudsley method and family based treatment modalities like they use at Children’s Colorado under Dr. Hagman focusing on nutritional rehabilitation from effects of starvation and nutritional stability shows the best promise for recovery.

    • J__o__h__n

      I didn’t intend to say that eating disorders were the result of being sheep.  It was in response to the suggestion that the problem of children seeing media that has negative body image messages should be countered by celebrities with good messages. 

  • pam60

    I applaud Kaylin for her success in dealing with anorexia!  I am SO GLAD she has chosen to be a social worker rather than a registered dietitian (or degreed nutritionist), as many in our field have ED tendencies.  Based on her experience & success, I am she will provide great inspiration to those with EDs.  I worked as a registered dietitian 1983-2010, focused directly on EDs 1998-2010; a detour of multiple sclerosis ended that.  Regardless, people of all ages & genders challenged by an ED are near & dear to my heart.  Recovery rates are low; relapse rates high.  As one of the callers said, many well-intentioned people (including doctors, nurses, parents, friends, etc.) don’t realize the impact they make on those that are vulnerable to an ED, whether it be anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating.  I believe EXTREMES are not necessary.  Food is necessary for life.  It is not intended to be a friend or an enemy.  Moderation in all things with (healthy) dedication to activity is the key!  Go Kaylin!!!!

    • kaylin129

      Awe thanks so much pam60! Truly. Things are going to change. I have hope!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.masayda Sharon Masayda

    Hi, just joining in. I heard the last 20min of the show just now. My daughter has been struggling with eating issues since around age 13, when her body began to change and her grandmother made comments to her about it and that her face was so full and round….it planted a seed and was fueled by media and by regular ups and downs of adolescence. She is now 17 and I have  brought it up w/ mds earlier who thought, meh, she’s fine. Now they are paying attention…BMI is 14.9! She just started counseling again and will be seeing a nutritionist today. I have a small window to work w/ since she’ll be 18 by the end of the year—legally able to do or not do whatever. Any tips?

    I’d really like to converse with Kaylin via email if she is available. Thanks

    • Lisa Williams


      For contact information on certified Family Based Treatment providers. Wish you the best Sharon ….

    • anne55

      I’d also suggest checking out the feast-ed.org and maudsley parents websites.  They are there specifically to support families through this experience.  I think you will find much there.  See the links in the post above.  I know they meant so much to me.

  • lillianmom

    Unfortunately the treatment (or lack of) and accessibility was not covered. May be this topic deserves a whole segment for itself. 

    • kaylin129

      It was not long enough (Kaylin here, from the show). It needs so much more than just 45 minutes! Now, if someone will just give me the microphone for a few hours!!

    • Lisa Williams

      You are so right lilinamom!! The exciting news in ED treatment is that early and aggressive treatment using Family Based Treatment (FBT) and the Maudsley method shows extremely high recovery rates. Everyone deserves to have better access to treatment and support. For where to find help NOW please go to

  • pam60

    Your daughter is very fortunate to have a mom that is so conscientious. One of the most important things I would suggest is that you have her working with people that are both qualified & experienced in working with EDs. An intensive treatment program may be necessary. Good idea to converse with Kaylin. Sorry….my MS is messin with me! I meant for this to be a reply to Sharon Masayda; looks like I put it in twice! OOPSIE!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1550492094 Brenda Axton Hicks

    I have to say that alot of this can be avoided if we go back to raising our children around the dinner table. My grandmother urged me to keep my children from birth on a feeding schedule, and I stuck to the schedule like glue, then as they became older we sat at the table as a family to eat. I did not treat boo boo’s with cookies or candy, it was a hug and a bandaid. all 3 of my children 2 boys and 1 girl eat when they are hungry, and when they are full they put the fork down. I urge more parents to help thier children with healthy eating habits at a very early age, then when the health class teacher or any other teacher teaches a class they can set an example to other children by participating. my daughter gets accused of being anorexic because she is a short girl who is size 0, but I assure you that she eats. I raised all of my kids in the kitchen helping to prepare the meals making sure that the knowledge I had acquried growing up did not end with me. We have to step back in as parents, and not have to put out an effort to see what our children are eating, but by putting out an effort of joining out children in meals we are seeing, and setting the example.

    • Lisa Williams

      You are so right Brenda, parents eating with their children around the dinner table! Put simply, the Maudsley Approach sees the parents of the ill person as the best ally for recovery. The effects of dieting (or insufficient food for a person’s activity level) are for many people a self-perpetuating cycle that requires intervention. In this evidence-based approach, parents are seen as the most committed and competent people in the patient’s life and therefore best qualified to find ways to fight the illness, to regain healthy weight, and end unhealthy behaviors.

    • kaylin129

      While I think it is so important to experience the family dinners, that is not a cure all fix all solution. I know we always grew up eating dinners together and enjoying those times but that did not stop me from struggling. There is so much that goes into understanding eating disorders which is why it is so vital to keep raising awareness and doing research. So much has changed in our society and people are “dying” to be like the stars. But, if only they looked at their lives’ and saw how broken many of them are. It is truly about setting a good example and teaching children what true beauty is at a young age and where their worth comes from … not from weight, food, height, clothes, money, etc.

      • Rose Everdeen

        kaylin it just breaks my heart to hear that you struggled through at a very young age. This was no doubt all at a time before treatments like the maudsley method which would have helped your parents and helped you find recovery at an early age…..My daughter developed ED at the same age you did, and is now fully recovered two years later. The only stars she saw on tv were Barney. I am so glad to hear you are doing well now and so committed to getting the latest treatment information out there to parents of the youngest and most vulnerable…..hugs to you!

        • kaylin129

          I am so grateful to hear that your daughter is doing well today. Praise Jesus! It was a tough road growing up but it has certainly made me who I am today and has provided me with the ability to help others. And for that, I am grateful. Thank you for your kind words and blessings to you and your family.

    • henry woodside

      Brenda you are so right on!! And you know what the latest studies on treatment that have success rates approaching 70% Maudsley Method focuses on being agnostic as to cause…. but seeing parents as the best aly for recovery. Maudsley Method focuses on restoring nutritional stability and yes……parents eating with children. It is often very difficult, but it works. Especially with the very young!! Recovery and hope is possible!

    • Irisva123

      My 11 year-old daughter was just diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. She grew up eating almost every single meal at the dinner table with us. I also didn’t reward her with food. I agree that it is important to do those things, but being a good example and family meals are (obviously) not always what prevents anorexia. My daughter was bullied in school for being “fat”, when she was heavier last year, but never overweight. There is a genetic pre-disposition, my sister had bulimia. When my daughter had to be on a liquid diet and laxatives for severe constipation in February, she lost some weight, and people praised how nice she looked. She just took it from there. She lost 30 pounds since then, and still feels “fat”.
      This is a mental disorder, and people shouldn’t play the blame game.

  • anne55

    I posted this information earlier today for families, but it appears to have vanished. It seems that perhaps I can’t post anything with a link in it! Will repost:

    eating with your anorexic and maudsley parents  
    are both wonderful parent / caregiver sites online that I highly recommend.  There is much useful information on family-based therapy as well as 24-hour parent support group online at the “eating with” website.  These were my lifesavers and, in my opinion, all families should be given information about this resource when their child is ill.  Since I can’t directly post the links as my post seems to self-delete, try doing a google search for them.  They should come up.

  • Mike_Card

    Yeow!  Certainly an important topic, but this broadcast is a pity party.

    • henry woodside

      AN has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

      • kaylin129

        To Mike Card, I am not sure what sort of pitty party you are talking about. This is a grave issue that is affecting people left and right, people you know and may not even realize. Anorexia Nervosa does have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. It is a very serious topic and  one that is not talked about enough. So thank you for pointing out that important fact, Henry.

  • Barry Levine

    Just listened to part of this show. There are 2 points I’d like to make. Firstly, the self-description by Kaylin sounds similar to OCD – of a mind in chains. Secondly, agreed that the family has to be involved in cases of mental illness, which is what this is – but we should recall that autism was formerly ascribed to “refrigerator mothers”. Let’s not get carried overboard on environmental etiologies, without proof.

    • Lisa Williams

      That is pretty astute Barry, the results of the Minnesota Semi Starvation study showed that patients exhibited OCD behaviors during starvation state. And I agree that the families do need to be involved in treatment and recovery.

      • kaylin129

        Yes, that video does show some great things about the starvation process and the effects it has on the body. OCD was a huge part for many of those men.

    • kaylin129

      Those with eating disorders do experience OCD behaviors (by the way this is the guest Kayling speaking). The repetitve thoughts, food behaviors, exercise behaviors, constant weighing, etc. That is part of the issue, breaking those. And family is absolutely vital. Just like many complicated and multifaceted illnesses, there is still so much research needing to be done to full understand it.

  • Regular_Listener

    A few thoughts on anorexia (and less serious levels of eating disorders), having known a number of girls who had it.  First of all, it seems to go hand in hand with a perfectionist mentality, a desire to do well in all areas.  The girls I knew who had it were smart, driven, and successful in their endeavors.  At least one of them later denied having ever been anorexic, and it became a very touchy subject.  Also, it is very upsetting to see it starting in preteen girls, and being triggered by the well-meaning efforts to reduce obesity, which is also running rampant.

  • Rachel Seaman

    I think the main problem is automatically equating “fat” with bad and unhealthy and “skinny” with good and healthy.

    Bodies exist on a spectrum.Dieting is NOT the answer. From what I can tell it only causes problems, both physically and mentally.

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