n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Insufficient nutritional knowledge and disordered eating : the silent educational neglect?

Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



In this article the author draws attention to recent research and to experience obtained during the past seven years in private practice as a psychologist. The question of the neglect of knowledge concerning nutrition and eating disorders in formal and informal education in South Africa is raised. Young people and their parents require nutritional guidelines and information about eating disorders when an uncontrollable eating pattern is identified by both adolescent and parent, a disordered eating pattern that is perilous to the young person. Often parents do not even realise the grave effect of nutritional neglect on their child. Today many young people endeavour to live in a fantasy world in which they are in 'control' and where they do not experience any problems and parents complain that their children want to exclude them from this world. In modern society values of independence among youth are promoted and thus the vulnerable child and adolescent tend to hide their secret of disordered eating. Children and adolescents show poor nutritional intelligence by making poor lifestyle and eating choices. Advertising in the media regarding (poor quality) meals, the so-called junk food, over-emphasis of a slender body, absence of parental guidance regarding nutrition, lack of health conscious role models and poor nutritional education in schools seem to be some of the reasons for this. However, this article does not seek to attribute blame; it focuses on the link between ignorance and neglect. While many adults in different areas of the health professions regard poor nutrition as one of the main reasons for learning and behaviour problems among youth, parents and teachers have a greater responsibility to equip the child by providing adequate nutritional information to develop sound opinions, beliefs and values to make responsible choices.

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