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anorexia

WW, formerly known as WeightWatchers, launched a diet and nutrition app marketed at children and adolescents this week and have faced immense backlash since.

Kurbo by WW is a free programme that claims to help eight-year-olds to 17-year-olds "build healthy habits", and lose weight through personalised coaching and food tracking.

The app's "traffic light" diet approach categorises foods as red, yellow and green (red being the most process, sugar-filled, yellow being lean protein and pasta and green being fruit and veg).

Kurbo by WW was developed at Stanford University, and WW have defended their programme by stating the app is backed by safe scientific studies. 

CEO of WW, Mindy Grossman, said; "To change the health trajectory of the world, we have a tremendous opportunity, but also a responsibility, to help kids, teens and families adopt healthy habits."

Many critics of the app insist that encouraging kids and teenagers to diet can perpetuate an unhealthy and dangerous mindset.

Fatphobic cultural messaging around dieting has led to a massive issue surrounding eating disorders and mental health among youth.

In an article published in Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics in 2015, researchers found that because adolescence is such an important time for body image development, 12-to-18-year-olds with a negative perception of their body or weight are more likely to develop eating disorders or dysfunctional exercise habits.

Of course, obesity can be linked to numerous health concerns but disordered eating and mental health conditions among adolescent is reportedly more likely to pose a dangerous risk than paediatric obesity.

35-to-37 percent of adolescent girls in the US alone report using unhealthy weight loss measures, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. These methods include fasting, smoking, taking laxatives and 'skinny teas', skipping meals and even vomiting.

One-in-three adolescents in the UK alone reported experiencing mental health issues, according to a troubling survey by the charity Action for Children. 

More than 12 percent of adolescents in the US are affected by depression every year. 

Many people on social media were furious about the Kurbo by WW app. Jameela Jamil, an activist and actress who runs the iWeigh campaign for body positivity, tweeted her disgust at the news.

“Are we kidding? Breeding obsession with weight and calories and food at the age of…8?" she wrote. "I was 11 when my obsession started, due to being put on a diet for being the heaviest girl in the class. I became afraid of food. It ruined my teens and twenties.”

Petitions have already been created against the app, with the hashtag #LoveNotDiets trending to urge parents to use love rather than diets to help their nutritional habits.

Childhood obesity is still an incredibly serious public health challenge of the 21st century, and the app attempts to reduce a child's sugar intake. There is nothing wrong with promoting healthy foods and exercising for physical and mental health benefits. 

However, many parents feel that instilling a diet-centered mindset among young people who are already vulnerable could be a dangerous mistake. Targeting the mental health crisis could be a more productive way forward.

Feature image: Instagram/@coachdavidflowers

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Eating disorders are complex and multifaceted illnesses, with a number of causes and manifestations. 

Experts in the area are constantly trying to improve the treatment methods for those suffering from eating disorders, and new research shows that studying feminist ideology could be of assistance. 

Now, researchers don't exactly mean reading The S.C.U.M Manifesto and being on your merry way. 

Experts have published a paper in the Journal of Eating Disorders which shows that a 10 week course discussing the portrayal of the female body and appetite could help sufferers to feel less to blame for their illnesses. 

Those who participated were more able to identify their problem within a broader cultural context after studying feminism. 

The group looked a gendered portrayals of appetite and discussed how females are expected to appear in society. 

Academics at the University of East Anglia carried out the programme on seven patients, none of which originally identified as feminists. 

They looked at Disney movies, TV ads and social media to establish how women are showcased and how that can relate back to diet and appetite. 

While participants found that the groups helped them to identify how social constructs of femininity impact their disorder, many felt that their disorder was the result of individual experience or issue, rather than a broader societal reason. 

'So [it is] less like, well there’s a model, a skinny model in a magazine, looking at that, you’ve been looking at that too much and so you just wanna’ be like them…' said one participant.

'I don’t agree with that at all. I think that completely trivialises it.'

Researchers concluded that gender issues are not addressed enough in the treatment of those with eating disorders. 

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After receiving rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival, movie buffs the world over are eagerly anticipating the release of Netflix's latest feature film, To The Bone

The film, which stars Lily Collins, follows the journey of 20-year-old, Ellen and her battle with anorexia.

While many are praising the film for tackling such a sensitive issue, others fear the film may act as a trigger for people who suffer from eating disorders.

However, it's worth noting that both lead actress, Lily Collins, and the writer/ director, Marti Noxon, have both suffered from disordered eating in the past and are not afraid to address their demons head on.

In a recent interview on Lorraine, Lily opened up about how it felt to play a character who struggled with the same illness she had suffered from, stressing how proud she was to be a part of the project.

"It’s actually the first feature film that’s been done about eating disorders and I feel so proud to be a part of it, to keep it entertaining in a way but also informational," she said. 

"I was kept under strict supervision by producers, director, my own mother and also a nutritionist so we worked very closely together, very healthfully."

"I was actually excited to be able to tell the story to open up further conversation for young women and men around the world."

Check out the full interview below. 


To The Bone is out July 14, 2017. 

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Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario has opened up about her struggle with anorexia in a powerful new Instagram video.

In the post, the actress – who plays Spencer Hastings in the hit TV series – explained how her eating disorder affected her ability to interact with others and to care for herself.

The 31-year-old star said: “With anorexia, a lot of it is about presenting a front of ‘everything is OK’ as you’re slowly killing yourself.”

 

Mod vibes.

A photo posted by Troian Bellisario (@sleepinthegardn) on

“Gone were the days where I was just a happy, carefree kid who was running around,” she continued.  “Suddenly I felt this inability to interact with people and to nourish myself.”

When asked why mental health issues are worth addressing in the run-up to the US presidential election, Troian replied: “I just want to make sure that everybody has the same opportunity for treatment that I have.”

“I think that we have to make sure that our government invests in those programmes.  What matters is that we continue to make our voices heard in this great democracy.”

The award-winning star finished by encouraging people to vote.

Her post’s caption reveals that she will be supporting Hillary Clinton’s bid for president.

Troian first spoke publicly about her own mental health issues in 2014 when she revealed she had battled an eating disorder and self-harming tendencies while at school.

 

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Vlogger Eugenia Cooney has been forced to defend herself against a petition which demanded she be banned from YouTube for encouraging anorexia.

Despite never admitting to having an eating disorder, the 22-year-old New Yorker has been heavily criticised in recent weeks for her strikingly low weight as thousands of her followers believe her tiny frame could drive fans to towards extreme weight loss tactics.

In a recent post – which is entitled “I’m Sorry” – the self-proclaimed “emo” addressed the claims by insisting she has “never tried to influence anyone badly” and has “never encourage[d] people to try look like [her]”.

A number of petitions on Change.org ask for the popular blogger – who has almost one million followers – to be temporarily removed from YouTube until she gets help for her alleged condition. 

One such proposal received almost 20,000 signatures before it was removed on Friday.

The petition read: “Eugenia Cooney has a serious medical condition and needs to seek help.  She has been influencing her viewers by her serious underweight condition.”

 

Filming some videos today

A photo posted by Eugenia Cooney (@eugeniacooney) on

“She has not been getting better since the day she started YouTube, she’s getting more and more sick each day.  And it’s honestly like she does this bodily harm to herself and shows young girls, such as her viewers on social media that it is ‘okay’, to be suffering from a medical condition such as Anorexia-Nervosa (sic).”

“She has not got any treatment.  And is triggering her fan base,” the post alleged.  “She may not be intentionally influencing her viewers, but showing more than 50 percent of her body in her videos and pictures is not helping girls with Anorexia or any eating disorder.”

 

Woke up like an hour ago good morning guys  how are you doing today?

A photo posted by Eugenia Cooney (@eugeniacooney) on

Eugenia has been the focus of a number of hateful YouTube videos which encourage people to dislike her videos and suggest she is “slowly killing herself”.

 

Hello guys hope you're having a good day ^-^

A photo posted by Eugenia Cooney (@eugeniacooney) on

 

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She may be part of one of the biggest girl bands in the world right now, but Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix fame fought her fair share of demons before establishing herself as a bonafide popstar.

Opening up about her issues in the band's autobiography, Jade explains that a number of events led to the development of an eating disorder which saw her weight plummet to just six stone.

From navigating problems at home and school to dealing with the loss of a family member, a 13-year-old Jade attempted to gain control by monitoring her diet in a move which eventually resulted in her hospitalisation.

"Anorexia is a self-destructive thing and you become stubborn, so when people are trying to tell you something you get it into your head that they're against you and you're not going to listen," she wrote.

 

truly terrifying. hats off to me mam for producing the omen. #mothersday

A photo posted by jadeameliabadwi (@jadeameliabadwi) on

Revealing the extent of the problem, Jade explained: "My periods stopped and things were getting out of control but I don't think I really cared about what was happening to me."

"I felt so depressed at the time that I just wanted to waste away and disappear." she admitted.

The singer pinpoints her meeting with medical professionals as a turning point in her battle against the illness, writing: "It took going to hospital to make me realise that it wasn't a game, it was something really serious."

"They sat me down in the clinic and were quite tough at first, spelling it out: 'You're destroying your body and if you keep doing this you will die'" she remembers.

Thankfully, Jade received the help she needed and slowly returned to a healthy weight during her teens,

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Dieting, restrictive eating and intense workout sessions seem to be part and parcel of life for many young Irish people, but when does 'looking after your body' cross the line to a dangerous obsession?

Many eating disorder sufferers point to a lack of control in their lives or a time of intense upheaval as the moment their issues with food began. But it's not always quite so clear cut, as Irish woman Fiona Morris can attest to.

"For so many years, people, family, friends, doctors, counsellors tried to uncover the reason for why my eating disorder began," she says of her 12-year experience with anorexia.

"What was the root cause? When did it all start? I thought that if I knew the reason it all started, then I would be able to find the way out of it."

Today marks the second day of Eating Disorder Awareness Week in Ireland and around the world, and Fiona has graciously shared her story with us.

"I put the debut of anorexia down to a culmination of feeling inadequate, seeing myself as 'ugly', unfortunate circumstances and bad timing," she says.

"Over the years I have realised that finding out how or why I got sick wasn't nearly as important as realising how I could get better."

While she does not yet fully consider herself as "recovered," Fiona says she is "proud AF" with how far she has come.

"I am not going to say I am one of the 'lucky' ones, luck has not played any part. What I will say is that I am one of the brave ones, who was strong enough to stand up for my right to be alive and to have a place in this world.

"I would give a lot to be able to get back the years I lost to anorexia…but the reality is, I can never get those years back.

"I can never erase the years of crying, lying, wishing, wanting, jealousy, hatred, frustration, fear and guilt."

Despite all of this, Fiona still tries her best to take even some small positive lessons from her experience.

"Having anorexia, has no doubt taught me a lot about myself and about life. Yes, I regret the years I spent with it, but I don't regret all the lessons it taught me.

"I understand the beauty and fragility of life. I understand the blessing that we have been given with life. I have compassion and understanding.

"I have a clear and balanced perspective on what is important and most of all, I have a deep appreciation for good relationships, with both friends and family.

"I have had to try and take some positive out of my 'lost' years and it is these life lessons that have stood out."

After a long-term battle with her eating disorder, Fiona said she now accepts her experience as a part of herself – and wants to use what she has learnt to help others.

"I would be lying if I said that I don't still struggle. I do. I really really do. I have had it for 12 years so I wouldn't expect to not have tough times.

"I am not sharing this for praise or attention, I know myself how much I have accomplished. I am sharing this to reach out to people struggling with an eating disorder.

"I want you guys to know that no matter how long you have had an eating disorder for, how many times you have got  a bit better only to fall down again, how bad it may seem right now, no matter how hopeless you feel or how scared you are about taking a step forward… that recovery is possible for everyone.

"Recovery is a full time job and I am OK with that, because the pay is more than any job will give you."

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At her lowest point, Megan Jayne weighed just 5st, was kept alive by a feeding tube and told she had just weeks to live.

Though she wasn't diagnosed with anorexia until the age of 14, Megan says she had self-esteem issues from as early as five years old.

These days though, she has embraced her curves and uses images of her own body to inspire others, sharing pictures with her 44k Instagram followers on a daily basis. 

Megan might seem like she exudes body confidence, but she admits that even after her physical recovery she still couldn't wrap her head around the idea that curves could be beautiful.

 

A photo posted by Megan (@bodyposipanda) on

"My weight never relapsed back down to dangerously low, but my mind never truly recovered," she says on her website, BodyPosiPanda.

"I tripled my body weight in a year, and was thrown right back into a world of diet talk and airbrushed ideals, in a newly chubby body that I was disgusted with."

 

A simple dress and some sunshine feeling grateful for all of the little things

A photo posted by Megan (@bodyposipanda) on

Through the medium of social media though, Megan found a whole community of people who were proud of their bodies regardless of how they looked.

"Somehow I stumbled across a body positive hashtag, and saw all these people of every shape and size unapologetically loving themselves.

"Slowly, reluctantly, something dawned on me: I just could not live the rest of my life hating myself."

 

A photo posted by Megan (@bodyposipanda) on

Now, six years on, Megan describes herself as a "recovered anorexic and recovered self-loather," and she's using her experiences to help others.

"Whatever you’ve been taught to hate about yourself, whether it’s your weight, your height, your skin colour, your gender, your age, your ability – you are more than that thing," she says.

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There are tens of thousands of popular Instagram accounts which chart weight-loss.

The user's progress is documented in workout sessions, calories consumed, kilos shed, and dress-sizes – not to mention the requisite before-and-after shots.

However, one young woman has decided to do the opposite: Amalie Lee is instead charting her weight-gain.

A recovering anorexic, she is championing her new body shape through a series of gorgeous pictures that are now inspiring others.

The 20-year-old also shares snaps of her food intake: a refreshing selection of Nutella-covered crepes, jelly sweets, bars of chocolate and ice cream.

 A native of Norway, but studying at a university in London, Amalie says her struggles began in 2012.

“I went through a depressive phase in my mid-teens, and my perception of myself hit an all-time low," she says now.

"I just wanted to disappear. My eating disorder was never about looking like a model, it was a way to cope.

"I made bizarre rules for myself about what I allowed myself to eat, when, where — even what spoon to use."

Ms Lee says she resisted treatment initially, but gradually came to realise that, with her BMI dropping dangerously low, she could end up dead.

In 2013, she entered hospital as an out-patient and began rehibilitating.

"There wasn’t a magic moment where I had a recovery revelation, it was many small things at once that made me choose recovery," explains Amalie, who has chosen not to disclose her lowest or current weight, lest it act as a trigger to others.

 

2013 vs 2015. Anorexia did not just randomly "let me go", and vanished by itself. I let go of anorexia, and it was not easy. Stop waiting for a perfect future moment when you are ready to recover, because life is what passes by whilst you waste your time waiting. Start NOW. There is no perfect recovery, perfect meal plan, perfect weight gain. You have to eat, sometimes you feel like you are exploding, expanding into infinity and loosing control, but you are not. By allowing yourself to heal you are IN control. Eating a whole chocolate cake by yourself because your body is so goddamn desperate after all the restriction, is actually GOOD, both for body and mind. We live in a society that labels calories as something negative, but that is not right! Calories allow your heart to beat and your hair to grow. Without calories, there is no recovery or life. Calorie is a term for energy, everything around you is energy, calories are your bodies energy, just like electricity for a light bulb and battery for your phone✨ Sometimes, when it hurts, it means you are doing something right. I sincerely believe there is hope for every eating disorder sufferer. The brain ghosts (as @fightthepoop nicely names it) will haunt you at times after the recovery process is gone, but those thoughts are not dangerous unless you turn them into actions. The screaming ED voice will gradually give up when it sees that you don't obey, and it will eventually turn into occasional whispering. IT GETS BETTER #realcovery

A photo posted by REDEFINING HEALTHY (@amalielee) on

She only began her Instagram account, which she has named Redefining Healthy, less than three weeks ago, but has already gained more than 72,000 followers. 

"Luckily I got good treatment," she reflects now. "I learned a lot, both from my treatment personnel." 

Weight-wise, by the spring of 2014 she was declared fit and well, though she adds that "it takes longer to recover mentally".

Amalie also posts positive messages to her fans, and challenges the assumptions surrounding eating disorders.

"Most people with eating disorders are normal- to overweight," she highlighted in one recent post. "Most people with eating disorders don't have clinical anorexia nervosa.

"There is NO such thing as being 'too big' for an eating disorder. Not all underweight people have eating disorders or are unhealthy."

She concluded in the same post: "We need to stop labelling and judging, and start accepting that people come in different sizes, and that is OK."

 

Should you feel impacted by any of the issues included in this article, please contact BodyWhys, a voluntary organisation supporting people affected by eating disorders. BodyWhys runs a LoCall helpline on 1890 200 444, and also has an email support service via alex@bodywhys.ie. Check out the website here for furthermore information. 

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Presenter Gok Wan has opened up about his long-running struggle with anorexia.

The How To Look Good Naked star spoke during an open discussion at Birmingham City University about his battle with the eating disorder, which started in his early twenties.

"I struggle with anorexia every day. It's like a parasite that won't go away," he told the students, before adding that his extensive knowledge of the disorder has helped him to deal with it better. "Realising it doesn't go away is the biggest weapon," he said.

The star began dieting excessively after reaching over twenty stone in his late teens, and while he is in recovery now, it wasn't always so easy.

Gok became visibly upset while talking about his battle with anorexia, which he said was prompted by routine bullying during his school years for being overweight. However he said that some of his darkest moments have motivated him to work harder at his career.

"When I was being bullied I wished the bullies a terrible fate. But over time I’ve forgiven them as without them I wouldn’t be who I am today… In order to get through the dark times you need to remember that life is short and therefore you really need to focus on the good stuff," the star said. 

"The little things that worry you are those that will ultimately fuel your success."

Gok also spoke about the importance of self-confidence and the courage to be different. "‘Identity is really important and it’s not something that should be overlooked," he said.

Very wise words.

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Zosia Mamet, one of the stars of the hit HBO series Girls, has revealed that she “nearly died” from an eating disorder in her teens.

Her issues started very young, when at eight-years-old someone told her she was fat.

“I’m not fat; I’ve never been fat.” Zosia says. “But ever since then, there has been a monster in my brain that tells me I am – that convinces me my clothes don’t fit or that I’ve eaten too much.”

Her obsession with weight and appearance reached their peak in her teens, as the disorder took over her life.

Zosia unflinchingly details how bad things had become: “ As a teenager I used to stand in front of the refrigerator late at night star­ing into that white fluorescent light, debilitated by the war raging inside me: whether to give in to the pitted hunger in my stomach or close the door and go back to bed,”

“I would stand there for hours, opening and closing the door, taking out a piece of food then putting it back in; taking it out, putting it in my mouth, and then spitting it into the garbage. I was only 17, living in misery, waiting to die.”

It was Zosia’s father, award winning playwright David Mamet who intervened and got her into treatment, saving her life.

He came home one night from a party, took me by the shoulders, and said, ‘You’re not allowed to die.”

This was a wake up call for Zosia. “It was the first time I realised this wasn’t all about me. I didn’t care if I died, but my family did.”

“That’s the thing about these kinds of disorders: They’re consuming; they make you egocentric; they’re all you can see.”

Today Zosia feels she has come to terms with her past issues and is now happy at a healthy weight.

 “It may never disappear completely”, she says, “but hopefully one day it’ll be so quiet, it’ll only be a whisper and I’ll wonder, ‘Was that just the wind?’

If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or eating disorders, you can call Bodywhys at 1890200444

 

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Kings of Leon, singer Caleb Followill has admitted that he struggled with the eating disorder, anorexia for many years.

Caleb opened up about the eating disorder in a recent interview: “I always thought I wasn’t good enough.”

The front man admitted to doing extreme press-ups, constantly pushing himself to the limit and said he would go running on hot days with a heavy tracksuit to sweat out the excess.

Followill also used to drink coffee constantly, to make sure he kept his “…hands and mouth busy without eating”.

Caleb said he is doing better now and now has his weight under control. The Kings of Leon singer said he would even like to gain more weight. 

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