Dangerous Message, Wrong Messenger

Carol Brown
We've read plenty of articles about the messenger. This one is about the message. 

Eat less. Move more. Avoid fat.

So says Michelle Obama and the federal government.

The message sounds like the tormented thoughts of a person with anorexia nervosa, an intractable mental illness that traps the person in a cycle of starvation and manic exercise.

One out of every hundred teenage girls will develop anorexia nervosa, and the number is rising. The percentage of boys affected is lower, at about .3%, but is also increasing rapidly.

Meanwhile, the prognosis for a full and permanent recovery is poor, with some studies showing a recovery rate of less than 40%. Even more shocking, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It is estimated that between 5% and 20% of those afflicted will die from it, either from health complications or because they commit suicide.

Bottom line: America's adolescents are starving themselves. And in no small numbers. All-the-while the First Lady is touting a program that runs a sound loop harping on the need to eat less, move, eat less, move more......

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for healthy eating and exercise. Hey, even I do that once in a while!

I'm also in favor of these values stemming from the home not from the federal government. But if the government is going to send a message to young Americans, I'd like to think it would not be one that would push those already immersed in a deadly mental illness further into it. Or those on the fence, pushed over because the First Lady of the United States said they need to eat less and keep on moving.

If the government wants to consider child obesity as a reason to file a child abuse/neglect complaint against a parent, I wonder if a parent with a child with anorexia could sue the government for reinforcing the deadly message that pounds in that child's head day and night?

I doubt it.

We've read plenty of articles about the messenger. This one is about the message. 

Eat less. Move more. Avoid fat.

So says Michelle Obama and the federal government.

The message sounds like the tormented thoughts of a person with anorexia nervosa, an intractable mental illness that traps the person in a cycle of starvation and manic exercise.

One out of every hundred teenage girls will develop anorexia nervosa, and the number is rising. The percentage of boys affected is lower, at about .3%, but is also increasing rapidly.

Meanwhile, the prognosis for a full and permanent recovery is poor, with some studies showing a recovery rate of less than 40%. Even more shocking, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It is estimated that between 5% and 20% of those afflicted will die from it, either from health complications or because they commit suicide.

Bottom line: America's adolescents are starving themselves. And in no small numbers. All-the-while the First Lady is touting a program that runs a sound loop harping on the need to eat less, move, eat less, move more......

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for healthy eating and exercise. Hey, even I do that once in a while!

I'm also in favor of these values stemming from the home not from the federal government. But if the government is going to send a message to young Americans, I'd like to think it would not be one that would push those already immersed in a deadly mental illness further into it. Or those on the fence, pushed over because the First Lady of the United States said they need to eat less and keep on moving.

If the government wants to consider child obesity as a reason to file a child abuse/neglect complaint against a parent, I wonder if a parent with a child with anorexia could sue the government for reinforcing the deadly message that pounds in that child's head day and night?

I doubt it.