Eating disorders start with teasing, study finds

Bullying about weight is not uncommon. Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders reports when children are teased about their weight, they are more reluctant to exercise or engage in physical activity."We know that weight bullying happens to a lot of children," said Dena Cabrera, PsyD, psychologist and director of educational outreach at Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders. "Bullying can perpetuate the cycle of lack of exercise as well as using food as a source of comfort." Children who are bullied about their weight, especially in their preteen years, are highly susceptible to developing negative self image, and poor body dissatisfaction, which can last into adulthood. "Bullying is abuse," adds Cabrera. "Many kids feel unsafe in school and unsafe in their own bodies. 'Weightism' is the last form of socially acceptable prejudice. We hear so many negative comments around us and in the media about people's sizes and shapes, and it's often commented on without any sensitivity or regard." Dr. Cabrera says there's a lot that we can do to stop bullying about weight. Parents play a key role in creating a home environment that fosters healthful eating and physical activity. Dr. Cabrera's suggestions to parents include: * Recognize the signs of bullying about weight * Create a healthy home environment * Take a "zero tolerance" stand in the home with family members * Teach social and assertive skills * Build resilience and self esteem * Get support from teachers, school administrators and counselors * Get support from the law Remuda Ranch offers inpatient and residential programs for individuals suffering from eating or anxiety disorders. Each patient is treated by a multi-disciplinary team including a psychiatric and a primary care provider, registered dietitian, master's level therapist, psychologist and registered nurses. For more information, call 1-(800) 445-1900 or visit

********** Published: November 11, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 30