The mere thought of a kid having an eating disorder is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the number of kids diagnosed with an eating disorder, predominantly anorexia nervosa, has been rising in recent years. Likewise, while the beginning of an eating disorder is commonly documented among adolescents, recent studies show that even prepubescent kids could and do have them.
Eating Disorders and Kids
Eating disorders are especially hazardous in young kids since they could escalate very rapidly and permanently restrict overall development and growth. They could be extremely hard to diagnose due to the fact that the nutritional needs and body weight of kids significantly differ as they go through puberty. It is crucial to note that having an eating disorder is not the same as having eating difficulties such as picky eating, fussiness, or issues associated with developmental problems like Autism.
With the plethora of mixed messages regarding the obesity issue, the right kinds of exercises, celebrity culture, what you should eat, and most notably social media, many kids feel pressure and confusion. According to a counselor in a renowned anorexia treatment center, over half of elementary-aged kids feel like they need to lose some pounds, and as much as 80% of girls aged 10 to 12 years old have already been or are on a diet of some sort. Studies have also shown that young boys account for 20% to 25% of kids dealing with eating disorders and that there could be a link between developing eating disorders during adulthood and obesity during childhood.
Regardless of the age, however, know that eating disorders are mainly brought about by underlying emotions, and not really about food. Behavioral changes concerning food might indicate that a kid is undergoing emotional, developmental, or social issues like abuse, bullying, teasing, anxiety or depression. Typically, the development of an eating disorder occurs so that the kid could feel some semblance of control over what they’re going through.
Your Role as a Parent
It is your responsibility to get help for your kid as soon as your suspect that he or she is exhibiting signs of developing or going through an eating disorder. Note that kid are considerably more susceptible to an eating disorder’s dangerous effects than adults, and early diagnosis and intervention is extremely vital. Speak with experienced counselors in your area so that you’ll know what to do and how to approach your kid. Lastly, don’t play the blame game, you didn’t really cause your kid’s eating disorder, but remember that you can do something about it before it gets out of hand.