Canadian study: School healthy-eating programs may cause food disorders

Children of normal weight lost too much because of school nutrition programs.

April 4—School-based, obesity-prevention programs that push “healthy eating” are triggering disordered eating in some children, creating sudden neuroses around food in children who never before worried about their weight, Canadian researchers report.

In one case, a 14-year-old boy who was normal weight lost 11.5 kilograms over seven months after he began severely restricting food, cutting out “bad foods and junk foods” and limiting his intake of cheese, milk and meat in response to a “healthy living” program at his school.

The researchers describe the cases of four children referred to hospital-based eating disorders programs after being exposed to “healthy eating curricula.”

“They were all affected by the idea of trying to adopt a more healthy lifestyle in the absence of significant pre-existing notions, beliefs or concerns regarding their own weight, shape or eating habits prior to the intervention,” the authors write in the journal, Eating Disorders.