Thursday, September 30, 2010

Popular British TV chef: please don't celebrate excessive thinness

Nigella Lawson has championed an "anti-diet" philosophy and expressed concerned that increasing numbers of young people are suffering from eating disorders.

The television cook, renowned for her indulgent recipes, said she worried that dieting had become "normalised" for teenagers. Seeing her late mother, Vanessa, struggle with eating disorders throughout her life has made her determined to have a positive relationship with food, Lawson said.

"I think that's probably very much the basis of my anti-diet stance. "It's not that I think it's good to eat unheathily, I don't, but I can see how corrosive obsessive dieting can be.

And what I would say now as a parent - you know, I've got teenage children - is that I'm quite taken aback how much anorexia now seems to be pretty much equal in both sexes. I notice both male and female.

"In many senses it's slightly normalised because people routinely congratulate one another for eating less or for losing weight. 'Have you lost weight?' is meant to be a nice thing to say to someone. So, of course, you don't have to extrapolate very far and that gets to be a celebration of excessive thinness."

Appearing on Daybreak, the ITV1 morning programme, Lawson admitted that she did not set a perfect example for her own children. "I did vow when I had my daughter that I would never become someone who would say, 'I shouldn't eat this or I feel so fat today'. Of course, occasionally one does break that."

Her comments follow the death of Anna Wood, 16, who decided to join her mother on a post-Christmas diet in January last year. Within months, her weight dropped to six-and-a-half stone and she died of a heart attack earlier this year.

Lawson has previously referred to her mother, who died in 1985, as "perpetually dieting". She recalled: "As a consequence, my act of teen rebellion was not being skinny... in my experience, enjoying food is probably a good way of not getting into that binge mentality".


ADHD blamed on genes, not parenting

Nice to see the obvious acknowledged

ATTENTION deficit hyperactivity disorder is a genetic condition rather than a consequence of bad parenting or poor diet, new research suggests.

A landmark study found that children with ADHD are more likely to have differences in the brain caused by duplicated or missing segments of DNA. The research, published today in The Lancet, dispels theories linking the condition to parenting or high-sugar diets, The Australian reports.

Scientists from Cardiff University found that rare copy number variants - where small pieces of DNA are duplicated or deleted - were twice as common in children with ADHD as in those without.

The study identified an overlap between the affected parts of the DNA and those associated with autism and schizophrenia. The most significant was at a particular region on chromosome 16 that has previously been implicated in schizophrenia.

Children with ADHD are excessively restless, impulsive and easily distracted. There is no cure, although medication and behavioural therapy can reduce symptoms. Patterns of ADHD have shown it to be highly heritable. Sufferers are statistically more likely to have a parent with the condition.

Anita Thapar, of the department of psychological medicine and neurology at Cardiff, said the study showed that ADHD was better considered a neurodevelopmental disorder rather than a behavioural problem.

"We hope these findings will help overcome the stigma," Professor Thapar said. "Too often, people dismiss ADHD as being down to bad parenting or poor diet. Now we can say that ADHD is a genetic disease and that the brains of children with this condition develop differently."

Researchers analysed the genomes of 366 children with a diagnosis of ADHD against more than 1000 control samples to search for variations in their genetic make-up. They found 57 large, rare copy number variants in the ADHD sufferers compared with 78 among the 1047 controls.

While the study showed the primary role of genes, it did not exclude the influence of environmental factors and it included only people of European Caucasian descent.

John Williams, of the Wellcome Trust, a funder of the research, said: "These findings are testament to the perseverance of Professor Thapar and colleagues to prove the often unfashionable theory that ADHD is a brain disorder with genetic links."

The researchers said that while autism and ADHD were thought to be separate conditions, the study suggested that they may have a shared biological basis.

Philip Asherson, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, agreed that environment should still be considered a cause. Research on Romanian orphans found that deprivation at an early age could lead to ADHD or other neurological problems, he said.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's good that ADHD has now been diagnosed as a genetic condition but I do not accept the author's conclusion that it is a disease. The nature of ADHD indicates it is more a genetic diversity issue than a disease.

It would not surprise me the least to find out that the people who take immediate action to save themselves in an emergency are the ones who have this gene while those who freeze up and become victims are those who lack it.