AUSTRALIA’S obsession with obesity is feeding deadly eating disorders which are claiming victims as young as 7, including an increasing number of boys.

Experts told a national eating disorders conference on the Gold Coast yesterday of a “toxic culture” of body image which is causing huge physical, psychological and financial harm.

Obsessive dieting was costing lives and almost $70 billion a year in health and productivity expenses, the Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference staged by the Australian and NZ Mental Health Association heard.

Christine Morgan, CEO of l eating disorders charity The Butterfly Foundation, said Australian children as young as seven were being hospitalised for anorexia nervosa and bulimia.bigstock-Waist-Away-599503

Obessive dieting is costing lives.

Only weeks ago, Ms Morgan  attended the funeral of a 22-year-old anorexia nervosa sufferer who died of a heart attack.

She said the $644 million-a-year weight-loss industry, fad diets such as paleo and raw food and media portrayal of the so-called “ideal” body image were contributing to the eating disorder epidemic which was afflicting almost a million Australians.

“We’re living in such a toxic culture at the moment,” Ms Morgan told the conference.

A TV presenter recently told of her six-year-old son doing sit-ups to try to get a “six-pack”, she said.

“Boys are turning to exercise, proteins powders and substance abuse (steroids).’’

Queensland Institute of Medical Research geneticist Professor Nick Martin outlined an international research project to identify genes that contribute to eating disorders.

Prof Martin said it was hoped the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative could lead to  drugs and methods to fight the  deadly illness

This article first appeared on ‘The Australian’ on 27 May 2014.


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