Berkeley - Don't blame those chocolate treats in heart-shaped boxes. One of the biggest factors contributing to eating disorders among this country's youth is a negative body image, according to health and nutrition experts.
To address this issue, the Center for Weight and Health at the University of California, Berkeley, is presenting a "Love Your Body" conference on Valentine's Day (Thursday, Feb. 14).
"You can't have a serious discussion about preventing and treating eating disorders among young people without factoring in the impact of poor self-esteem and body dissatisfaction," said Joanne Ikeda, UC Berkeley nutrition education specialist and co-director of the Center for Weight and Health.
The one-day conference comes at a time when children in the country are increasingly at risk of becoming overweight. Figures from the U.S. Surgeon General show that 14 percent of teens aged 12 to 19 years were overweight in 1999, nearly triple the figure from 20 years before. Of children aged 6 to 11, 13 percent were overweight.
Featured speakers at the conference will include Marilyn Wann, activist and author of "Fat! So?"; and Jennifer O'Dea, an expert from the University of Sydney, Australia, who has studied effective eating disorder prevention programs. Arnell Hinkle, executive director of the California Adolescent Nutrition & Fitness Program, will highlight outstanding Bay Area grass-roots programs.
Three parents and their children will also discuss the challenges of raising body positive kids.
The conference is being co-sponsored by the University Health Services, the UC Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources, and Genentech, Inc.
Reporters are invited to attend the conference, to be held at UC Berkeley's Clark Kerr campus, 2601 Warring Street. A complete program of the conference is at http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/cwh/news/announcements.shtml#conference.