Belfast Telegraph

My daughter, 11, thinks she's overweight

Fiona Caine is here to help if you have a relationship, sexual, marriage or family problem.

My daughter is only 11 years old and is already very conscious of her body image.

She thinks she’s overweight because she’s a bit more rounded than some of her friends but she’s actually quite slim.

She’s still carrying a bit of puppy fat but so were her two sisters at this age so I’m sure she’ll shed it too, in time.

Her sisters are both older (one aged 19, one aged 17) and are concerned about her too.

Nothing any of us say will convince her that she’s not overweight and she is now getting really picky about her food.

I am terrified she is going to develop an eating disorder. Surely she shouldn’t be so body-conscious at such a young age? PH


While young children shouldn't have a distorted self-image, it seems that a great many of them do.

For many, their idea of beauty is to be skinny like some of the models and celebrities they see. Worryingly, research has shown that some of them start being affected by eating disorders when they are as young as five years old.

In the past three years, almost 600 children aged 12 or under were treated for eating disorders.

Of these, 98 were aged between five and seven, 99 were eight or nine years old and almost 400 were aged between 10 and 12.

It may be triggered by changes in circumstances (such as divorce) but whatever the cause, children with eating problems are getting younger.

So please don't ignore your daughter's change in eating habits, especially if you are seeing other behaviour changes too.

Do contact your GP, or perhaps a school nurse if there is one.

The charity Beat has been involved with a lot of the research into this area and has, on its website, a whole section for young people, as well as advice for parents and friends.

Belfast Telegraph


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