AP: Retract "Picky Eating" article ridiculing children with mental health issues
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RE: “Picky Eating Is Not a Disorder: It is Rudeness” by John Rosemond
Last week an article by the AP syndicated columnist, John Rosemond, appeared in the Omaha World-Herald online edition. The topic he chose was Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)--which he referred to, disparagingly, as “Picky Eating.” As a trained psychologist, Dr. Rosemond knows ARFID is indeed a real disorder. He also knows his loyal readers enjoy his anti-psychology perspectives, and his authoritarian views of parenting make this kind of column seem both sound and rational.
What he does not seem to know, or cares less about, is the effect ARFID has on real families. When this kind of statement is made in the press by someone who self-styles themselves as an expert, many families can suffer as a result. Many people, including the editors of the Omaha World-Herald, do not seem to realize that disparaging families, suffering from this brain problem, is not just “opinion:” it is actively medically dangerous advice seemingly coming from an “expert.”
ARFID is not about parenting--or even eating, for that matter. It is a dangerous and disabling brain disorder. Practicing psychologists and medical personnel who specialize in eating disorders know this. They also know ARFID is treatable, but only when the family understands the nature of the disorder and is supported in getting that treatment. Rosemond, however, does not treat patients and is not trained in evidence-based eating disorder diagnosis or treatment. As such, his “opinion piece” falls outside his professional and ethical scope of practice, as it essentially discourages the proper diagnosis and treatment of ARFID.
In hopes of getting this article reviewed, I approached the editors of the Omaha World-Herald via email. I heard back from their Managing Editor, Paul Goodsell, who maintained that publishing this irresponsible editorial piece was a matter of popularity and opinion:
Dear Ms. Lyster-Mensh,
Thanks for your feedback. As you recognize, John Rosemond is a national columnist, and we have published his columns for years because they are popular with readers. Many readers are quite devoted to him and seem to appreciate his particular parenting approach. Others disagree with him, sometimes quite vehemently. Either way, his columns reflect his personal opinions, and I think most readers are well aware that he is presenting his own take on issues. They are free to applaud his notions or reject them, just as they can make up their own minds about other national columnists who offer opinions on relationships or other issues.
Thanks for writing.
Just as not all sad people have depression, and not all of those with a suspicious mole have melanoma, not all children who are “picky eaters” are suffering from ARFID. Knowing the difference is the job of professionals who do recognize and believe in mental illness, and Rosemond unabashedly does not.
ARFID can disable lives and harm families, but recognition and treatment can be lifesaving. That is why discouraging families from recognizing the problem is harmful. Framing ARFID, a brain disorder, as a discipline or parenting issue is not just a matter of expressing one’s opinion; it is an act of ignorance, and it is going to cause real harm to real people. Families who are pursuing medical care for their loved ones and doing very difficult work to help them recover need the support of their friends and communities--not cruel and uninformed criticism.
Rosemond has his personal opinions, which is fine, but the Associated Press, and those media outlets who publish his columns, are responsible for the consequences.
ARFID is not a parenting issue nor are those who are living with ARFID rude. These are dangerous and irresponsible statements.
This petition to the Associated Press is signed by individuals and organizations around the world who are familiar with the science and the lifesaving effects of treatment.
Associated Press: Please review this article and retract it.
Recognizing ARFID is lifesaving. Ridiculing those with brain disorders and their families is quite the opposite.
Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh
Families Empowered And Supporting Treatment for Eating Disorders
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