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What Is Happening To Our Children

Jan 30, 2008
It can often be difficult for victims of anorexia to receive insurance pay outs if they need life saving hospital care and even for their families to claim on life insurance policies in the event of their death. This is because, although increasingly seen as a mental disorder, the results of anorexia are largely thought to be self inflicted.

However, anorexia is a social issue that has long been brushed under the carpet and seen as a means for attention seekers to gain what they want. It seems quite unfeasible that the 84,377 hospital beds that were taken up last year by sufferers of eating disorders were all held by attention seekers.

This number has risen 30,000 on the previous year and does not include those who didn't seek medical help. Research into treatment of this condition was given a multi million pound boost by the government last year to try to discover why the occurrences of this illness have increased by 40% in less than 20 years.

Of the total number of anorexia sufferers in the UK, a fifth of them were under 15 with 206 children under 13 and the youngest victim being merely 8 years old.

As unsavoury as subject as it may seem, many parents have seen the benefits of taking out life insurance for their children. However, childhood anorexia must raise certain questions in this field as it is the parents responsibility to ensure the healthy diet of their children.

As parents, we do all we can to ensure the well being of our children, mentally and physically. However, they are becoming more and more independent at an early age and it is hard to balance the peer pressure they are under with a healthy way of life.

They are hugely influenced by the celebrities they see on TV and in glossy magazines who appear to be stick thin. They believe this is the way to be beautiful and worthy. Parents could be exerting more influence on what their children watch but more so on the child's self esteem so that they know they are worthy regardless of size or shape.

I was stood in a well known accessory store at the weekend surrounded by these tweenies (the point between being considered a child and a teenager). I'm quite short myself but these children, because that's exactly what they were, were a good foot shorter than me and most were around 11 years of age.

They were all sporting thick foundation, made up eyes, false eyelashes and lipstick along with the top fashions and holding discussions about the size of their G strings loud enough for everyone to hear. It looked to me, to be abnormal. Where were the Barbie dolls and toy prams.

I know girls have now long outgrown this type of 'play' by the age of 11 but it seems so sad. Particularly when you read in the press about the disturbing amount of girls displaying signs of puberty as young as 3 years old.

There are several theories as to why this is happening. Social conditions are one of the biggest influences: stress will play an active role in kick starting hormones leading to puberty as will chemicals in the environment. Too much TV watching is also believed to play a part. Children who watched 3 hours of TV a day produced less melatonin. Low levels of this contribute to the timing of puberty.

Sexually influenced TV programmes that are ever more accessible to the young will also increase hormones, encouraging early onset of puberty. Many girls are uncomfortable and unready to deal with puberty at a young age and this can have a detrimental effect on their mental well being.

The health risks of early puberty are as yet, undocumented but there is concern that it may increase the risk of reproductive cancers later in life. Do life insurance companies ask at what age a female began puberty when assessing their risk.

With the early onset of puberty, the peer pressure from other youngsters, and the influence of irresponsible celebrities is it any wonder that young people are becoming susceptible to life threatening disorders such as anorexia? And would it be fair for life insurance companies to penalise them for this?
About the Author
Health expert Catherine Harvey looks at the effect of early maturity and how it elates to anorexia and the effects on life insurance premiums. To find out more please visit http://www.theidol.com/
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