Our view: mirror, mirror, on the wall

A Google search of the word ‘diet’ yields 280 million results. But ‘healthy eating’ only returns 9 million. ‘Eating disorder’ returns 5 million.

‘Anorexia deaths’ – 468,000.

‘Pro anorexia’ – 644,000.

See a problem?

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, more than one half of teenage females and one third of teenage males “use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.”

Look around you. In fall 2007, 61 percent of undergraduate students were female and 39 percent were male.

If you apply the NEDA statistics to Kent State, 43 percent of students here have dealt with an eating disorder in their lives. That’s almost half the students you’ve had class with, lived with and cheered (or ignored) the football games with.

To combat this, the NEDA started National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which begins Monday. Since 1987, the organization has used the week to hold events at schools, colleges, churches and hospitals, among other places, to promote messages about healthy body image, balanced eating and the seriousness of eating disorders, according to its Web site.

They have the right idea. With so many people affected, it’s clear that something needs to be done.

It will only work if everyone is in on it. Parents need to teach their children to eat healthy from a young age. Teachers and schools should make healthy body images a standard part of curriculums.

But all that means nothing if the messages they put out are contradicted by advertisements that perpetuate the idea that thinness equals happiness. And even worse, companies come out with more low-cal, fat-free, guilt-free food everyday, because instead of teaching how to eat healthy, they’d rather make money. And pseudo-healthy food sells.

The awareness week that begins Monday is only a small step in remedying the problem, but it is a noble one. Any attempt to help anyone, particularly young people, view themselves in a healthy light and live to be healthy, not thin, is worth the effort.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.