COLUMN: Fight eating disorders early

Often, a social stigma is attached to these disorders, and teens may not feel comfortable revealing the fact that they face such problems.

COLUMN: Fight eating disorders early

It is a problem that is often not discussed around the dinner table, but affects nearly 60,000 British Columbians, including 1,000 children.

Eating disorders, which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, are serious health issues that need to be addressed and discussed in our society.

Studies have shown that these eating disorders often have an early age of onset and that they usually signal other mental health problems that children may be facing.

Those with eating disorders have an intense focus on their body weight and may be highly obsessed with their body image. Though both males and females can have eating disorders, 90 per cent of those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia are women.

According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, “40% of nine year-old girls have dieted to lose weight.” Hence, it is important to address this public health problem at the earliest stage, especially in the school and home environment.

While television programs and the media certainly play a role in perpetuating the idea of the “ideal” body size, our own attitudes towards dieting also play a role in further accelerating the problem of eating disorders. The problem is so serious that of all other mental disorders, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate and they are a growing problem.

Often, a social stigma is attached to these disorders, and teens may not feel comfortable revealing the fact that they face such problems. In order to tackle these disorders, parents and educators must look for warning signs in order to prevent undiagnosed cases.

Equally important is for teens to realize and admit that they have an eating disorder and seek help.

While these disorders are certainly discussed in high school planning and science classes, students facing such disorders may still feel hesitant to admit that they have a problem.

It is not enough for schools to simply raise awareness of these issues. School counsellors must take a more active step in looking out for warning signs, which include extreme weight loss, excessive exercise routines, abnormal eating habits, and lower self-esteem.

The onus is also on parents to recognize these signs and examine other factors that may be contributing to abnormal eating behaviours, as early detection and treatment is imperative.

Instilling a sense of confidence in a child and focusing on health, instead of weight, should be the main focus in a household.

Teens adopt attitudes about weight and body size from the media, the home and the school hallways. Solving the problem of eating disorders will take a joint effort.

As students, we should change our attitudes about what it means to have the “ideal” body size and focus on our talents and hobbies. It is not cliché to say that it is the inside that really matters.

For more information about eating disorders and who you can contact for help, visit

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University Surrey. He writes regularly for The Leader.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A tow truck works to pull a dump truck from a ditch at 176 Street and 40 Avenue, following a two-vehicle incident Tuesday (Jan. 19) afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: Dump truck, car collide in South Surrey

Intersection – 176 Street and 40 Avenue – was site of 2019 fatal collision

An electric vehicle charging station in front of Hope’s municipal hall, district hall. (Photo: Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
40 electric vehicle charging stations planned for Surrey

Funding coming from all three levels of government

Police on the scene of a homicide in South Surrey’s Morgan Heights neighbourhood earlier this month. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Crime Stoppers received more than 500 tips related to gang activity in 2020: report

Metro Vancouver organization “urging local residents to keep providing anonymous tips”

Family and friends of Hudson Brooks marched as part of a call for answers from an IIO investigation into his 2015 death. (Black Press Media files)
Inquest to look into RCMP shooting death of Hudson Brooks

Charges agains the RCMP officer who shot Brooks were stayed in 2019

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Most Read