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Thank you for visiting my thoughts and ideas site. If you want to speak directly or have my thoughts on something that is important to you email me at admin@ncfed.com

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Death of Amy Winehouse

There is a great deal written about Amy Winehouse this week and I like many others have been drawn to listening to her music. We have had the typical musings about the waste and costs of drug addiction and the importance of rehab and other forms of treatment.

But did anyone ever consider that she may have suffered as a consequence of low weight.  I was struck by her early photos and she was clearly a very different size and shape in her teenage years - chubby even.

There is a very strong link between bulimia and addictions, in particular alcohol in both sexes. A lesser link, but one none the less, between anorexia and addiction. The presence of body image problems makes it harder for someone to recover from an addiction. When you stop using, you may gain weight or start feeling fat. This is partly because you start experiencing emotions in your body where emotions must be felt.

If you are bulimic or anorexic, the health risks of addiction are magnified. With poor nutrition, the heart can simply stop beating.

We have yet to discover more about her untimely death. But why haven't I seen any mention of an eating disorder yet? Perhaps?

Friday, 15 July 2011

Body Image, How Do You Feel About Your Body, Continued.

I have been writing about the media and bodies. How do we get the balance right between encouraging people to take responsibility for their eating in this food filled society, versus promoting eating disorders?

This quite topical, today an article in the Daily Mail proposed to have fat children put into care. One obesity expert,  Kelly Brownell said that some parents are lazy and some are thwarted and some are ignorant. So there we are.  It's a very contentious solution.

I have listened to many proposals for managing media images to prevent body dissatisfaction. They seem like small solutions to big problems, such as putting health warnings on airbrushed pictures. Or being absolutely frank about the amount of airbrushing that has been done. I do not think this will be popular with celebrities.

Some schools offer media awarness training for adolescent pupils, but these are few and far between. So, we are what we are, a culture saturated with images with bodies that can never stay slim enough, perfect enough or slim enough to measure up for long. Not all of us are suffering because of this but some people are. If you think that your thoughts about your body are driving you mad, call us 0845 838 2040 or read about body image in our time on our information page. http://www.eating-disorders.org.uk/     We can help.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Body Image And The Media: Getting The Balance Right

In a previous life I  worked as a marketing executive for a major magazine publisher. Magazines sell to niche markets by providing content that the market wants to read. This content doesn’t always make people feel happier. Psychologists try to make people happier. There is an uneasy marriage between these two roles. Magazines have been slated for their portrayal of very thin, emaciated women. And they are now being condemned for their obsession with celebrity weights and body shapes.

There is no point in trying to categorise the media as good or bad, its purpose is to mediate between the individual and his culture, provide targeted information and forge invisible connections with like-minded people, at the very least. Magazines appeal to our dreams and possibly bring to the surface our greatest anxieties so that they can help us to do something about them.

So it has to be their purpose to create insecurity about our size and shape then provide solutions like yet another weight loss plan. This leads to some contradictory features like a recipe for chocolate cake alongside an article on how to lose weight fast. Magazines have been like this since I was young, but there are some recent, more worrying trends. The one that most comes to mind is a growth in the number of publications aimed at men's fitness and health. They are remarkable for their front pages showing  muscled torsos with the well defined 6-pack. Undoubtedly many of these photos have been digitally adjusted. But men are increasingly senstitive about their bodies too and many are taking steroids to try and build up muscle and lose fat. That can't be good at all.

Women's magazines have deflected the argument that they are responsible for "an epidemic of anorexia". They argue that anorexia is not a slimming illness and to some extent they are correct. Notwithstanding,  a social conscience is creeping in with respect to correcting harms. In 2009, Alexandra Schulman, Editor of Vogue wrote to to designers urging them to provide samples in reasonable sizes – size four rather than size zero; well it is a start.

The media is also giving us good quality information via documentaries, dramas and helplines to address potential harms. Yet this can also lead to some confusion. With conflicting concerns about the obesity epidemic and the eating disorder epidemic, some of the information we get is muddled. People say to me, I don't want my child to get fat but I don't want to risk her getting an eating disorder either. How do we get the balance right?

To be continued........

If you have concerns about body image, body dysmorphic disorder and eating concerns visit http://www.eating-disorder.org.uk/. We could save your life.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Obesity Surgery: North Staffs NHS Trust & Mr Condliffe. Barking Up The Wrong Tree?


This gentleman has been refused obesity surgery and is appealing the decision of the North Staffordshire NHS Trust. He claims that he will die if he doesnt have it. The Trust says that he isn't fat enough yet. Many people overeat to gain weight so that they can qualify for the surgery. Then they have to undereat to prove to the Trust that they are capable of managing their diet.


Mr Condliffe who wants the surgery needs to understand that the surgery isn't a panacea. If he has a bypass or the gastric sleeve his diabetes will go away and he will lose a lot of weight for a while. He will have to eat a very modified diet and he won't be able to turn to the jam butties very easily if he is stressed. If he doesn't sort out his relationship with food, he could get in  trouble down the line.

On the other hand if he has a gastric band, it may be a total waste of money.

North Staffordshire NHS Trust could have saved itself a great deal of time and money if it had paid The National Centre for Eating Disorders for Mr Condliffe to have an eating disorder assessment. This would have cost them about £55. If Mr Condliffe is eating for comfort a great deal, a course of eating disorder treatment would have gone a long way toward dealing with his weight problems and also his diabetes. His family would also benefit from the knock on effects of his counselling - in terms of their overall lifestyle and his ability to exercise.

Who is to blame here when someone gets into such a fix? Is it the GP who treats the diabetes but doesn't provide the help for the underlying problems with food? Is it the Trust who doesn't see that a course of counselling costing, say, £500 - is far cheaper than everything else? Why is everyone barking up the wrong tree?

Would someone please find a way to get this Blog to North Staffordshire NHS Trust and to Mr Condliffe and I will offer this gentleman an eating disorder assessment free of charge. Call 0845 838 2040 or email admin@ncfed.com