Monday, March 05, 2012

Pressures to diet weighing on children

And all based on a political fad with very dubious science behind it. Dieting usually ends up making you FATTER

CHILDREN as young as four, panicked by aggressive anti-obesity messages, are starving themselves.

In 2010-11, 42 primary school children were admitted to hospital for eating disorders and the number of under-12s seeking help at Eating Disorders Association Queensland almost doubled from the previous year.

There was a 100 per cent increase in the number of cases relating to primary school boys. More than 500 parents in total made contact.

The shocking new figures come as food warrior and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver yesterday called for Government's to regulate what goes in to school lunchboxes.

In Australia this week, Mr Oliver said: "I think school lunch boxes are the wild west. "Diet-related disease is costing more money to any government in the world - it is a miserable bastard of an epidemic. "So your government needs to catergorically control what is and isn't appropriate in a school lunch, and it needs to educate parents what to put in those lunch boxes."

However, experts closer to home are now warning of a new health crisis with children confused about the anti-obesity message.

"We are just starting to see in the figures the fallout from the 'thin at all costs' anti-obesity message being forced on our kids," said Desi Achilleos, the co-ordinator of Eating Disorders Association Resource Centre.

"The message is not working for children who are overweight and is creating a class of self-loathing healthy-weight children.

"In 2010-11, we dealt with 47 per cent more primary school children than the previous year. The youngest was a preschooler.

"Last week I had a call from a guidance officer in a state school asking my advice about a Grade 2 child, a six-year-old girl who refuses to eat. She says that she hates her body and no one will marry her if she's ugly."

A staff member at the group was told of a healthy-weight primary school child being picked on by friends for having a muffin in her lunchbox.

The association is putting much of the blame at the feet of the state's schools. Damning feed-back from clients paints a picture of schools using food diaries, classroom weigh-ins and public humiliation.

"There are horror stories, but as a whole primary schools are well-meaning and adhering to curriculum guidelines, but nutrition needs to be taught in a broader context of collective health. We would recommend more collaboration with parents and caregivers - they are making the food choices for kids," Ms Achilleos said.

Brisbane GP Leanne Barron, who treats kids with eating disorders, said: "I have seen a five-year-old who has lost 3kg in one school year because she is so frightened of taking 'unhealthy' food and of not being able to eat the quantity of 'approved' foods in her lunch box.

"Fanaticism by the broader community has led to classroom weighing, lunchbox nazi-checks by teachers and schools vying to have the 'healthiest tuckshop' while in their playgrounds underweight children and teenagers shiver through the heat of Queensland summers, unable to maintain a healthy body temperature."

According to Ms Achilleos: "Queensland schools are doing their best to address nutrition through the Australian Curriculum Guidelines of a 'no-harm' approach."

However, the association is adamant the use of a food diary in some state schools breaks the "no harm" policy and slams any shaming of children for their food choices.

Asking kids to be accountable for their food choices when they are not the ones choosing their food is concerning," Ms Achilleos said. "Also, things like the calling out of sizes of sports uniforms at sports time can be very damaging."

Amanda Dearden, co-ordinator of Isis: The Eating Issues Centre Inc, told The Sunday Mail that Isis, in collaboration with the Queensland Eating Disorders Advisory Group, has met Education Queensland representatives a number of times to express concern about the growing number of young children with eating disorders.

Education Queensland told The Sunday Mail some state schools had hired a nutritionist and acknowledged the presence of food diaries but insisted they were optional.


Cheap acne antibiotic could alleviate symptoms of schizophrenia

This is certainly hopeful but will probably apply only to a subset of schizophrenics. Schizophrenia has a substantial inherited component

A cheap antibiotic usually used to treat acne could alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia, international studies have found. The National Institute for Health Research will start 175 recruiting patients for a £1.9m UK trial of the drug, minocycline, next month.

The study comes after a chance observation in Japan caused researchers to test the drug in patients with schizophrenia first in Japan itself, and then all over the world. Trials have already been held in Israel, Pakistan and Brazil where schizophrenic patients treated with the drug showed significant improvement.

Scientists believe schizophrenia and other mental illnesses including depression and Alzheimer's disease may result from inflammation in the brain. Minocycline has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects which could account for the positive findings.

The first account of the antibiotic's positive effects appeared in 2007, when a 23-year-old Japanese man was admitted to hospital suffering from persecutory delusions and paranoid ideas. The subject had no psychiatric history and blood tests and brain scans showed nothing unusual. He was started on halperidol, a powerful anti-psychotic drug, but it had no effect. However when he developed severe pneumonia a week later and was prescribed the antibiotic, the infection was cleared and the psychosis resolved within two months.

However, minocycline does not work as a cure. When the patient stopped taking the drug, his psychiatric symptoms got worse again. But another treatment with minocyline made him better again.

The UK trial will recruit patients recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, Jeremy Laurance, a member of the Schizophrenia Commission, told The Independent. Half the patients will take minocycline with their standard anti-psychotic treatment, the other half will take a placebo.

Brain scans will be carried out at the beginnning and end of the year-long trial to compare loss of grey matter which is an effect of schizophrenia. Tests will also measure inflammatory markers in the blood.

Paul Jenkins, CEO of the charity Rethink Mental Illness told MailOnline: 'We welcome the early promise shown by minocycline in treating psychosis in people with schizophrenia.

'Nowhere near enough time or money currently goes into to researching treatments for schizophrenia or other serious mental illnesses, which cause pain and suffering for many thousands of families across the UK.'


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