Dialing for Disorders: Let’s Move To Prevent Them By July 12!

June 29, 2010 As a kids’ health advocate (inside and out) I’ve been covering the “HUGE” conversation pertaining to media’s responsibility and accountability in how the portrayal of being overweight in our appearance-obsessed culture is handled. (Huge: Part One, Part Two)

Now it’s time to weigh in on the policy piece. (I’m not referring to RWJF’s annual “F as in Fat” assessment either; though the interactive is a must-see)

I just finished reading a sound, well-reasoned “action alert” from the EDC (Eating Disorders Coalition) who is working with Congressional representatives to convince the first lady and her Let’s Move campaign to expand the initiative in a huge way by addressing the bigger picture and including eating disorders alongside obesity prevention to convey responsibility in full tilt surround sound. Once again, we’re asking for a ‘first strike’ from the “powers that be” to ‘get it right’ and avoid doing unintentional damage while advocating for healthier bodies…

While we advocate strongly for Let’s Move’s obesity prevention and systemic health improvement, we also know that the heightened focus on weight (and constant media coverage of same) can invariably compound weight-related stigmas with unintentional reverb, including risky weight loss methods and development of eating disorders.

Let’s ensure we don’t have the spotlight shining so brightly on one main outcome while it slingshots to another with secondary reverb…In short, Let’s Move with our media and marketing messages very wisely! Here’s how:

Michelle Obama’s well-meaning fitness initiative can easily be more comprehensive and intervention focused by asking the first lady to expand the conversation and connect the dots between mental and physical health.

With more than 11 million children and adults in America suffering from an eating disorder on some end of the spectrum, it’s common sense to publicly, inclusively, overtly uncork this portion of the dialog and bring it out of the shadows to plop it within the health context of Let’s Move (infographics or otherwise!)

Let’s take a well-coordinated, reasoned, holistic approach to conquering the stigmas, body dissatisfaction and socio-emotional harm rather than just skim the surface in ‘fat farm to fitness’ broad brushstrokes.

Now…What can YOU do? (Concerned teens, adults, parents, advocates, et al?)

BEFORE  JULY 12 (it was July 1st, but got extended, woohoo!)

Contact your representative (if you don’t know who your rep is, pop your zipcode in here at www.house.gov and you’ll find out)

CALL your representative (202-224-3121 Capitol Switchboard, ask for your rep’s office)

And yes, this DOES work…I’ve sat on “The Hill”and watched young interns tally to gauge constituent influence, the inner workings are truly fascinating…

In a similarly aligned venture with Let’s Move, and a deadline driven focus of June 30, 2010 (they need your vote of confidence by tomorrow!) our friends at KooDooZ and O2Max have been nominated for the Governor’s Fitness Council Award for their upcoming Tour De Fitness Wellness Walk taking place August 14, 2010 in Santa Monica, Ca. (LetsMoveLA!)

I love how they’ve turned the concept of a walk into a lifestyle  event by stepping it out into a scalable movement that can literally ‘travel’ to other regions and cities by branching out into best practices to uplift and inspire…kind of a ‘TEDx’ for healthy lifestyle changes!

I can see how this would resonate for all ages and sizes to take steps towards ‘slow food’ and getting back to basics to simply eat/live closer to the earth, farther from processed and packaged.

Seems like a win-win far beyond farmer’s market fare, teaming youth and education with the ‘eat local’ and sustainable eco-message, it really brings in a universally appealing fun/festival community flair to get people moving in a healthier direction!

Oh, and btw, speaking of health….

For those who’ve been asking about my take on the new show “Huge” that premiered last night?

As Facebook would say, “it’s complicated.”

As expected, I had some visceral reactions to some of the advertising surrounding the show (really, people? Snickers? M&Ms? Clearasil?) As I stated before, the lead-in and lead-out entertainment offerings are predictably ‘ABC Family’ fare, (aka teen scene/soaps, not my fave genre; I’ve never been a fan of the bed-hopping gossip-fest pregnancy sexcapades in Secret Life of An American Teenager’s’s melodrama, no ‘secret’ there…)

…But the irony of Huge being positioned with the POST-show offering, Make It or Break with “lean-n-mean” (quite literally) waifish model gymnasts in pursuit of athletic gold is more than a little irksome. (that whole gymnastics show seems EDC watch-worthy, since athletes in appearance-based sports are even MORE prone to eating disorders; see American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pdf here)

I’m not a reviewer, I’m a media/marketing analyst of how messages land on kids, and a media literacy proponent.

As a writer/producer though, I DID enjoy the nuance of Huge and the hints of “series complexity” forthcoming, almost as if it would take a few episodes to grok whether or not they’ll make the characters multi-dimensional beyond the first pass empathetic/lovable slumber party vibe…

Like any pilot or premiere coming out of the shoot, ‘time will tell’ as it progresses…

I’m going to give it more episodes before I FULLY ‘weigh in’…but I’ll vote in favor of any show that adds some depth to the ‘same ol’ same ol’ depictions of how females are ‘cast’ to walk through this world. (namely, in stilettos with thongs, push-up bras and Q-tip style proportions, bleh)

Meanwhile, I heartily concur with Mensa/movie idol Geena Davis who advocated for gender equity in her speech to the UN today, commenting on character differentiation beyond the hourglass and/or cylindrical expectations rampant on TV:

“If there was a wealth of female characters of all different stripes, then you could make them whatever you want. You don’t have to limit yourself to this crazy ideal…”

But alas, there are NOT…

By sheer numbers she quotes a ratio of 1:3 women to men on the screen and 1:5 in large crowd scenes;  so much for “a wealth of female characters”–Hopefully Huge will change some of that! Geena Davis also had this to say on hypersexualization:

“If we have such devaluing and disempowering images from the first media that children consume, it sets the table and enculturates another generation of children into seeing women and children of a lesser status than boys and men…”

I’ll be covering more on Geena’s preso, including her well-warranted accusations of scantily clad/highly sexualized females even in G-rated movies, much less R-rated ones…

So here’s to new shows like Huge that COULD help out in this conversation…And to the EDC cutting a wider swath in a bigger discourse involving obesity as well.

Both are giant steps towards a more humane, educated, viewing audience and public at large…We have a large pendulum swinging wildly with polarity and extremes.

C’mon media producers, Let’s Move it.

Below are some out-takes from the discussion draft that resonated with me. These are slated for Congressional sign-on by close of business July 12 sent out via the EDC. If you’d like to urge your representatives to widen the obesity-access-fitness conversation, please sound off before July 12!

(Queries from advocates/individuals/orgs  route to JeanineCogan at starpower dot net)

…”Like obesity, unhealthy weight loss measures, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) have increased significantly over the past few decades. …”

“…In a speech that publicly introduced the Let’s Move Campaign, you stated that unhealthy diets and habits can negatively influence physical, emotional and educational development and well-being.  Eating disorders are no exception. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that undernourishment impacts a student’s ability to excel academically, and suicide, anxiety and depression are more common in people with eating disorders.  Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, and can result in long-term health issues including heart and kidney failure, cognitive impairment, muscle atrophy and sudden death.”

…”Like obesity, eating disorders afflict children of different ages, genders, economic backgrounds, and ethnicities.  At least 30-40% of junior high students have reported dieting, over half of high-school girls have reported dieting, and 25 percent of bulimia and anorexia cases are men. What’s more, student athletes can be especially vulnerable to eating disorders because some adopt unhealthy dietary restrictions and weight loss methods to achieve or maintain a certain weight for competition. Many obese individuals resort to unhealthy weight loss tactics and may develop eating disorders in an attempt to achieve a desired weight or body image.”

…”Strong environmental, cultural, social factors have contributed to the high rates of obesity and eating disorders in the United States.  Stigma, blame and misinformation often accompany these conditions.  Coordinated efforts among educators, elected officials, parents, community leaders and young people are crucial to executing sustainable solutions to these public health problems.”

…”We believe that Let’s Move Campaign’s mission is compatible with messages and interventions that are designed to address eating disorders.  Educators could incorporate information about unhealthy dieting when providing information about healthy food choices.  Speeches and parental toolkits could include information about risks, signs and support networks for eating disorders.  And, the Let’s Move Web site could include a link to the Office of Women’s Health Web site which has comprehensive and evidence based information on eating disorders.”

…”The unprecedented leadership in the battle against obesity through the Let’s Move Campaign shows your commitment to creatively and aggressively improving the health of children, families and communities…”

Yep, it does.

Sounds to me like another one of those ‘opportunity moments’ with ‘let’s not blow it’ hanging in the balance…

Let’s Move in the right direction for kids’ health overall!

I LOVE this chef partner program and the school gardens project, HUGE headway!



  1. Поздравте меня я нашел то что искал, спасибо автору топика за доступное изложения материала.Жаль что в интернете всю труднее откопать что либо стоящее, правду говорят интернет большая помойка

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