Vancouver Coastal Health is warning youth against fasting to promote awareness around world hunger because youths who participate could develop harmful eating patterns and unhealthy body image.
Famine rallies turn serious
Each year World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine rallies students across Canada to raise money and awareness for food security projects around the world.
In order to raise awareness around global hunger, participants can choose to not eat for 30 hours.
In their warning, VCH cited a study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
It said 24-hour fasts increase the chance of future eating disorders like bulimia and binge eating in youths.
“Having an event where it’s okay to not eat for 24 hours makes it harder to eat healthily,” said Helen Yeung, public health dietitian for VCH.
Yeung listed headaches, increased anxiety, and reduced ability to do both mental and physical work as just a few of the affects of short-term fasting in adolescence.
The Vancouver School Board is currently investigating the issue, said VSB spokesperson Kurt Heinrich.
“If there are activities that are happening that could adversely affect even a tiny percentage of our kids we take that very seriously,” said Heinrich. ”We will be taking steps to make sure that we rectify that situation.”Cindy Mielke is a spokesperson and manager of Youth and Student Campaigns at World Vision.
She said the charity and VCH are battling for the same cause.
“The point of 30 Hour Famine is to acknowledge that food and nutrition is incredibly important to child development,” she said.
“If anything [VCH’s warning] raises the awareness of the importance of food and nutrition.”
Alternative solutions – instead of food maybe abstain from technology?
Mielke said that though fasting is an effective way to bring awareness to world famine, there are alternatives available to students who want to participate without giving up food.
They include abstaining from technology, shopping, and even furniture.
Yeung said that the goal of VCH in releasing the warning was to make their information and resources available -so that the pubic could make informed decisions for themselves.
Reported by Alissa Crane