Junkfood Science: Pure eating

June 02, 2007

Pure eating

As the frenzy over “healthy eating” soars, our media sells the agenda without stopping to question its soundness. Meanwhile, the UK and Australian press has been the source for some of the sanest stories, attempting to bring balance. Today, the Daily Telegraph reports:

When eating right goes too far

EXTREME healthy eating is becoming such an obsessive ritual that it is risking young women's health and spawning a new eating disorder — orthorexia. A term coined by international doctors in the past decade, orthorexia is when sufferers — particularly adolescent girls –— become hooked on healthy and “pure" eating and put serious and damaging restrictions on their diets.

One leading Sydney expert, who said she was seeing an increasing number of teenage girls with the condition, said orthorexia could have short and long-term effects on bone quality, mood and immunity. “These are usually girls who only want things very healthy, they are very fat-phobic, they cook the meals themselves, they are very fussy about what they will and won't eat," [Susie Burrell, dietician at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead] said.

“There is a focus on keeping lean and thin and looking good and it's often smart girls who are doing well; they get very good grades, they're a good daughter and it goes to the next extreme." Sufferers of the modern food affliction tend to control their meal portions to the extent where they avoid processed foods entirely and eat very small amounts and sometimes exercise obsessively....

The article, however, dropped the ball on the science at the very end, when it concluded with a surprising cognitive disconnect. “There is a clear trend in people thinking there is a right way to eat,” Amanda Jordan, executive of the Eating Disorders Foundation said. Yes. But then she went on to advocate that it was still “good to be working aginst having an obese population, particularly in children.” So close...

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