Eating disorders include Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia. It is important to recognize that different factors play a role in predisposing, precipitating, or perpetuating the problem. Anorexia nervosa and compulsive eating are the most common among young children, but there are cases of bulimia being reported. It usually begins at the age of fourteen or fifteen, with another peak in incidence in eighteen year olds. It is estimated that 40% of nine year olds have already dieted and we are beginning to see four and five year olds expressing the need to diet. It’s a shame that children so young are being robbed of their childhoods.
Children raised in a dysfunctional family are at a higher risk for developing an eating disorder. In a home where physical or abuse is taking place, the child may turn to an eating disorder to gain a sense of control. Children may also develop eating disorders as a way of dealing with the many emotions that they feel, especially if they are raised in a home that does not allow feelings to be expressed. Children who are compulsive eaters are usually using food to help them deal with feelings of anger, sadness, hurt, loneliness, abandonment, fear and pain. There are many serious complications of anorexia, including fainting from low blood pressure, electrolyte disorders, being intolerant to cold, constipation, decreased energy, changes in mood, anemia, kidney failure and osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Eating disorders can cause heart and kidney problems and even death. Genetic attributes and it is more common in children who have a first-degree relative with an eating disorder. Children are at a risk for developing an eating disorder if the parents themselves are to preoccupied with appearance and weight. Eating disorder risk factors is purging behaviors (vomiting or using diuretics (water pills) or laxatives to lose weight). Restrictive eating patterns, which can lead to a failure to gain weight or to being underweight and can include skipping meals, fasting, or eliminating entire food groups. Amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycles) or delayed onset of puberty and menarche.
Parents may first suspect a problem when they discover large amounts of food are missing from the pantry or the refrigerator, though it’s hard to imagine one child could have eaten so much. Mothers with eating disorders may have a difficult time feeding their infants and young children and will further effect the child. Often the family environment will be less cohesive, more conflicted, and less supportive. People with bulimia may be anywhere from underweight, to normal weight, to overweight. It is estimated that as much as 3% of college-aged women have bulimia. Other signs found in teens with eating disorders include having dry and brittle hair, losing hair, and having muscle wasting.
Treatment of eating disorders in children is slow and difficult (and sometimes requires hospitalization) and should be overseen by a mental health. Exercise is also an important part of everyone’s life and we need to help our children become involved in physical activity. Patients with anorexia also require nutritional and medical intervention to make dietary. Do not criticize your own or your child’s weight, shape or size. Different types of therapy can help treat binge eating disorder. For example, family therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy teach people techniques to monitor and change their eating habits and the way they respond to stress. Family therapy includes the whole family in the process of helping the individual.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy combines the approach of helping the individual change their self-defeating thoughts with changing their behavior. Counseling also helps patients look at relationships they have with others and helps them work on areas that cause them anxiety. Weight-control programs are helpful for some people affected by binge eating. The medical treatment of bulimia has concentrated on antidepressants , particularly fluoxetine, which has been found to decrease binge eating and vomiting for about two-thirds of bulimic patients.