When First Lady Michelle Obama began the Let's Move! campaign, a lot of eating disorders activists and organizations were concerned about its focus on obesity and comments made by Mrs. Obama about putting her child on a diet. Many of you wrote to her to vocalize concerns about these messages and, lately, there appears to be a shift in messaging toward language that emphasizes overall wellness, as opposed to weight or size.
In First Lady Michelle Obama’s recent Google+ Fireside Hangout for Let's Move! on March 5th, she emphasized the need for children to focus on healthy behaviors and not weight or size, "I think we should be talking about these issues in terms of health and not in terms of physical--how kids look physically...I don't want our children to be weight obsessed. I want them to be focused on what do I have to do in this body--because everybody is different, every person's body is different."
This is a positive step, and we'd like you to take a moment to provide encouragement to Mrs. Obama to continue spreading this message, one we feel is a much healthier and a more positive message for youth.
In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) (Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011). We know that body dissatisfaction is a contributing factor in developing an eating disorder for those at risk. In order to prevent eating disorders and encourage overall wellness, we need to take nutrition, exercise and mental health into consideration. By placing an emphasis on healthy behaviors, we can take the focus off of physical appearance and the pressure to meet societal expectations.
Being thin is too often equated with being healthy in our culture. Our genetics affect bone structure, body size and shape. Because every body is different, we need to encourage body acceptance.