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Va. school system launches site for eating disorder education

Monday - 8/5/2013, 6:46am  ET

WASHINGTON - When school resumes, parents in Virginia will get something no other parents in the country will -- information about handling eating disorders.

It's part of a new law signed earlier this year by Gov. Bob McDonnell requiring Virginia school districts to provide information on anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders to parents with children in grades 5 through 12.

This includes a new website, StudentEatingDisorders.info.

Psychotherapist and certified eating disorder specialist Martha Ireland helped put together the website, which includes a basic eating disorder screening questionnaire. However, Ireland suggests well-meaning parents avoid suggestions about teens and their bodies.

"They can speak to their child and say, 'these are some things I've been seeing and I am concerned,'" suggests Ireland.

Parents shouldn't try to diagnose children. But, with the the information, they can talk with their child about speaking to someone qualified. And in addition to being alert and talking with kids, there are other ways parents can help, says Ireland.

"Doing activities together as a family, having healthy meals together, moderate exercise and enjoy each other -- and not focus on body size."

WTOP's Neal Augenstein contributed to this report. Follow @AugensteinWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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