Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dodging the Land Mines

My son is working on becoming an Eagle Scout and has to pass off the Personal Fitness Merit Badge. We're having to make some modifications because of my son's struggles with anorexia.

Anyway, I spoke with the merit badge counselor today. He is a professor of exercise science. He was willing to work with us, but I could tell that he had preformed ideas about anorexia and maybe thought I was a little crazy. I've had that same response from others with medical/professional backgrounds. [It's also possible that I'm just reacting defensively.]

I guess I'm surprised that those most rigid in their opinions about anorexia are professionals with very limited knowledge and exposure to anorexia. I tried to educate him, but I felt like that because I'm not a professional, he really didn't think I knew what I was talking about.

In contrast, our therapist who specializes in eating disorders has admitted that he doesn't know/understand everything about anorexia. In fact our therapist treats us like we're the professionals. Our neighbor, who is a therapist at an eating disorder clinic, admitted that they come out of college with maybe a one hour class on eating disorders and that any specialization comes as they get jobs in the field (and are subsequently trained by the "older" generation who are familiar with the old research and ideas). He admitted that they don't start out up-to-date on the the current information in the field because of that. Our own therapist is a good humble man. I can tell that he does his best to keep up on current research, but was willing to acknowledge that he doesn't know everything.

Here are the scout requirements for which we've requested alternatives:

Response Questions:
#3 D) Are your body weight and composition what you would like them to be and do you know how to modify it safely through exercise, diet, and behavior modification?
#5 D) The three components of a sound weight (fat) control program.
(We've requested that he completely skip this step.)

Have your parent, counselor, or other adult take and record the following measurements:
A) Circumference of the right upper arm, midway between the shoulder and the elbow, with the arm hanging naturally and not flexed.
B) Shoulders, with arms hanging by placing the tape two inches below the top of the shoulder and around the arms, chest, and back during breath expiration.
C) Chest, by placing the tape under the arms and around the chest and back at the nipple line during breath expiration.
D) Abdomen circumference at navel level (relaxed).
E) Right thigh, midway between the hip and the knee.
After the 12th week, repeat all four tests, record your results, and show improvement in each one. Compare and analyze your pre-program and post-program body composition measurements.
(He'll skip this requirement as well.)

12-Week Fitness Program:
(We've requested that his PE class take the place of any additional fitness requirements.)


Erica said...

Why are they encouraging weight loss for children?

I think, if your son wanted to, he could turn this whole thing around. He can show how a simple "fitness program" can have dire effects. He could use this blog to show the effects on his family. He could create a pamphlet on eating disorders and how to recognize them. He could talk about nutrition science and how it really isn't science at all. He could use his body measurements before anorexia and show what happened to his mind and body with weight loss. It could actually be an amazing project. Oh right, it's the Boy Scouts...they won't let it happen!!!

Anonymous said...

Having suffered from anorexia at 14 from what started as a "getting healthy program", I am absolutely shocked that they are purposely doing this with children. I don't think I would allow him to partake in it, especially at this time in his healing.