More proof that we’re dooming our kids with every good thing we do: a new study shows the further parents went with their education, the more likely their daughters will develop an eating disorder.
So all those years of holding my head over the toilet can be blamed on my mother’s master’s degree?
Not exactly – the blame isn’t put on the parents. If anything, it’s further support of a long held belief that eating disorders have a higher incidence in upper and middle class families, where parents are more likely to have furthered their education. In non-white communities, in particular, studies have also shown the incidence of eating disorders increases with education.
More interesting: the researchers also found that the girls’ own success at school was often indicative of their trouble with anorexia or bulimia. As their grades increased, so did their risk.
Again, this follows previous research on eating disorders. Those of us who throw up or deny ourselves food have often been described as more driven than classmates, with a stress on success. There’s a tendency to be competitive and to judge oneself based upon exacting (and often impossible) standards.
Put that in terms of grades, and it sounds like a positive thing. Competitive kids push themselves to get good grades, get into a good college.
Put it in terms of losing weight, and it’s anything but. Competitive kids push themselves to not eat for a full day, then a full two days. Or they (we) push themselves to throw up just a little bit more.
Should parents blame themselves on this one? As someone who’s been there, done that, no, I can’t blame my mother’s master’s degree for pushing myself to get into a good college OR to throw up nightly. But if there’s ever a sign staring you in the face that you need to pay extra attention to your kid’s well-being, here you go. Just because they’re smart in the head doesn’t mean they’re smart in the heart.
Also on Babble:
More They Say and Food: