Eating Disorders

Eating disorders in teenagers are more common than we think, more amongst girls, almost 90 & , however boys have body image concerns.

Weight obsession affects millions of teenagers today, especially girls.  1 out 7 women struggle with eating disorder .

In 1 study , few years back , it was found that 36% of adolescent girls – more than 1 out of 3 — believed they were obese or overweight while 59% were trying to lose weight.

What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, are psychological disorders that involve extreme disturbances in eating behavior. A teen with anorexia refuses to stay at a normal body weight. Someone with bulimia has repeated episodes of binge eating followed by compulsive behaviors such as vomiting or the use of laxatives to rid the body of food. Binge eating is characterized by uncontrolled overeating.

Anorexia nervosaoccurs due to body image issues Teens with anorexia fear gaining weight and are at least 15% below their ideal body weights. weight loss of 25% or greater.

Incidence is 1 in 20 among adolescents and 1 in 14 on campus . 9/10 are girls. Conscious suppression of appetite leading to starvation due to illogical fear of becoming obese. There is relentless pursuit of thinness,body image disturbance, severely malnourished with menstrual abnormalities. There is excessive compulsive exercising beyond physical capacity. Wears baggy clothes to hide thinness

Bulimia often starts in the late teens and early adulthood. People with bulimia go through cycles of eating enormous amounts of foods followed by purging by vomiting, using laxatives, or diuretics or hours of aerobic exercise. Incidence 1 in 5

Warning signs of bulimia include:

  • Extreme preoccupation about being overweight
  • Strict dieting followed by high-calorie eating binges
  • Overeating when distressed
  • Feeling out of control
  • Disappearing after a meal
  • Depressed moods
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Frequent use of laxatives or diuretics
  • Excessive exercising
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

What Causes Eating Disorders in Teens?

Experts link eating disorders to a combination of factors, such as family relationships, psychological problems, and genetics. The teen may have low self-esteem and be preoccupied with having a thin body.

Sometimes, being part of a sport such as ballet, gymnastics, or running, where being lean is encouraged, is associated with eating disorders in teens. There is also  obsession with perfectionism — concern over mistakes, high personal standards, and parental expectations and criticism.

What Are Symptoms of Eating Disorders in Teens?

Symptoms of eating disorders may include the following:

  • A negative body image
  • Skipping meals on regular basis
  • Unusual eating habits (such as eating thousands of calories at one meal or skipping meals)
  • Frequent weighing
  • Extreme weight change
  • lack of sleep
  • Constipation
  • Skin rash or dry skin
  • Dental cavities
  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Hair loss or dry brittle hair  or nail quality
  • Hyperactivity and high interest in exercise
  • denial that anything is wrong.
  • moody, anxious, depressed.
  • withdraw from friends,
  • overly sensitive to criticism.
  •  parents are not aware of these symptoms because the teen keeps them hidden.
  • Triggers –
  •  trauma, insecurities, depression, or low self-esteem that may help trigger the disorder.

Complications of eating disorders

  • serious illness and even death.
  • Girls may have menstrual problems ,
  • bone loss & fractures ,
  • kidney diseases
  • heart disease

How Are Eating Disorders in Teens Treated?

Treatment is through counselling using cognitive behaviour therapy ( CBT)Cognitive behavioral therapy helps by identifying and replacing inaccurate thoughts to help change behavior and emotional state.Anorexia treatment usually involves nutritional feeding, medical monitoring, and psychological treatment.