A new set of guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is causing some trouble for pediatricians who specialize in eating disorders. With a strong focus on preventing and reducing childhood obesity, the guidelines put more emphasis on feeding and weight management for at-risk children, which can put specialists in a difficult position.
According to recent reports by NPR, pediatricians that specialize in eating disorders believe the new guidelines are too focused on weight management to the point of forgetting the psychological aspects associated with eating disorders. For those working to treat children suffering from eating disorders, providing even the slightest hint of weight management can cause an obstacle in teenagers’ recovery.
Dr. Laura Hill, a pediatrician at Duke University Hospital, believes that these guidelines can actually be harmful to children with eating disorders. “If a young person is already displaying behaviors that suggest they’re having an issue and the pediatrician is implying that they’re doing something wrong, it may reinforce those symptoms and behaviors,” she says.
Moreover, the guidelines don’t mention the underlying problems that commonly cause children and adolescents to suffer from eating disorders, such as the replacement of nurturing and healthy relationships with food, undervaluing self-worth and esteem, and experiencing social stressors or traumas.
Pediatricians specializing in eating disorders are anxious that the guidelines may worsen the already growing number of children suffering from them. The AAP acknowledges this and has taken the first steps to alleviate these specialists’ concerns. According to Dr. Sarah Oelberger, a senior policy specialist at the AAP, “We recognize and are sensitive to the concerns about inadvertently creating a disordered relationship with food, which could include continued dieting, overexercising, etc.”
Ultimately, only time will tell if the guidelines will bear enough benefits to counteract the risks posed to those suffering from eating disorders, or if the equation will swing in the opposite direction. [ad_1]
NPR’s Juana Summers talks with Nooshin Kiankhooy, an consuming diseases specialist, about concerns about new tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on dealing with childhood being overweight.
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