“To the Bone”: What You Should Know before Your Child Watches the Netflix Film

Published on in CHOP News

To the Bone, a new film on Netflix, is getting a lot of attention for its focus on eating disorders. While the topic is important to address, some experts feel the movie might glamorize a devastating condition. Rebecka Peebles, MD, and Laurel Weaver, MD, PhD, Co-directors of the Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), watched the film and have advice for both parents and children who have questions about this disease.

Advice for parents

  • If you decide to let your child watch this film, make sure you watch it with your child, or ideally, watch it first to decide whether your child is mature enough to understand the film.
  • Keep open lines of communication with your child or teen about weight and feelings. Never encourage weight loss efforts. Attempting weight loss is typically not indicated for teens and can be dangerous.  
  • Eating disorders are serious illnesses. We do not know what causes them, but genetics and neurobiology can play a role in who is more at risk.
  • People struggling with an eating disorder often do not fit stereotypes seen online or on TV. Eating disorders can affect anyone, at any weight. Any young person who demonstrates weight loss and/or other disordered eating behaviors can develop an eating disorder.  
  • Some young people with eating disorders do not have a clear reason for their trouble with eating. They may not necessarily be trying to lose weight or be fearful of gaining weight. If you are worried that your child has an eating disorder, remember that they may not have the "classic" symptoms, as seen in the film. Act on your concerns by making sure they eat well, and discuss your concerns with their doctor.
  • Eating disorders are not caused by parents. If your child has an eating disorder, you are your child’s best asset to reach recovery. These are treatable conditions, and most people with eating disorders fully recover and go on to lead a long, healthy life.
  • Read the “Nine Truths about Eating Disorders.”

Advice for teens

  • We don’t recommend watching movies about eating disorders; it’s hard to know how it might affect you. If you decide to watch this movie, we recommend speaking with your parents or caregivers and watching it with them.
  • If you or a friend is struggling with an eating disorder, make sure you reach out to your parent or another adult. There is hope: These are treatable conditions, and most people with eating disorders fully recover and go on to lead a long, healthy life.
  • Attempting weight loss is typically not indicated for teens and can be dangerous. Do not attempt to lose weight without speaking with your parents and your doctor.
  • Eating disorders are serious illnesses and are not something to strive for. We do not know what causes them, but genetics and neurobiology can play a role in who is more at risk.
  • People struggling with an eating disorder usually will not fit stereotypes seen online or on TV.   Eating disorders can affect anyone, at any weight. Any young person who demonstrates weight loss and/or other disordered eating behaviors can develop an eating disorder.  
  • Some young people with eating disorders do not have a clear reason for their trouble with eating. They may not necessarily be trying to lose weight or be fearful of gaining weight. Remember that not all people with eating disorders will have "classic" symptoms, as seen in the film

If you or your child is struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to our Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment Program.