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How skinny is too skinny?

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

In our weight conscious society and a generation of obese children, it's easy to begin placing one's worth on their weight. In fact, girls especially are obsessed with the scale and feel judged according to their weight. It's common to see morning news anchors or talk show hosts growing thinner and thinner.

There comes a point, as with any obsession, when you cross the line between looking good and looking unhealthy. The host of Lifetime Television's show, "How to Look Good Naked," recently was quoted as saying "Zero is not a size, it's a warning sign." But is size zero perceived as a warning sign or as a status to attain? A survey taken among random ages asked women if they would give up five years of their life to be thinner. Many of them said a very loud, "YES."

Most people know when they look good and feel good. They can also tell you what their weight is when they feel their healthiest. Very rarely is that weight correlated with being too thin. Most people feel best when they have enough weight to help them feel energetic and vibrant, but not too much, which can cause fatigue, sore muscles, and joint pain. The body gives warning signs when you are too thin. Below are a few of those warning signs.

1. Having a body mass index of less than two to three points below what is normal for your height and weight.

2. Suffering from anemia or a lack of vitamins and minerals can be a sign of excessive binging and purging to lose weight.

3. For women, irregular menstrual cycles or no cycles can be a sign of being too thin.

4. Having dark circles under your eyes, or poor skin color are signs of malnourishment due to starving to be thin.

5. Feeling dizzy or confused are both signs of not eating.

Self-esteem is built on how we feel about ourselves. For women, body image is a large contributor to developing a healthy self-esteem, but it is minimized if the child has interests and achievements in other areas. Parents play a huge role in encouraging interests and supporting their child's activities. It is not men as much as it is women ourselves who objectify our bodies. We critique our bodies and our friends' bodies, and feel judged because we may feel we too are being critiqued. Children grow up hearing their moms lament about being too heavy, or not being in shape. Before the child is eight they are concerned with their weight, and how they compare to their friends.

If you notice your child is focusing more and more on weight, and less and less on their attributes, it may help you to help them focus on the healthy habits that will lead to healthy self-esteem. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Find groups or activities that share your common interests.

2. Worry less about weight, and focus on a healthy exercise and diet plan.

3. Educate yourself and have a career goal and dream.

4. Befriend rather than compare yourself to women of all ages, careers and ethnicities.

5. Focus on what you want, instead of how you look compared to your friends.

When parents join their child and the family works as team to help each member succeed, weight becomes less of an issue and healthy living becomes more.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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