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Title/Topic: Learn How to Spot Eating Disorders
Posted On: 3/29/2010
Mar 29, 2010 (Shreveport Times) – In the last few years we have heard a lot about the increase in childhood and teen obesity, though obesity is not described medically as an eating disorder. On the other end of the spectrum teens who do not eat enough may be suffering with bulimia or anorexia nervosa, both deemed psychiatric eating disorders. Just how much do these conditions affect our teens?

About 10 of every 100 teen girls suffer from two body image disorders, bulimia and anorexia. These two diseases are classified as psychiatric disorders and may run in families.

Over 12 percent of high school students admit that they have gone without eating for 24 hours so they may lose weight or prevent weight gain.

More than six percent of students nationwide admitted having taken diet supplements without a doctor’s advice to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight.

Forcing oneself to vomit as an aid in losing weight or keeping weight off is a practice used by about 5 percent of teens; the number of girls using this method is more than twice that of boys.

About one third of our children are classified as obese. Obesity is generally thought to have developed through a two-pronged course: poor nutritional habits and lack of physical exercise.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), stress, poor nutritional habits and food fads are some of the common traits that impact teens and how they eat.

Some of the symptoms of anorexia and bulimia are:
Anorexia nervosa: A teen who is a perfectionist and super high achiever in school or other activities. With that said, AACAP says that this teen likely has low self-esteem and irrationally believes herself to be overweight when she is clearly too thin. Seeking control over her life, she finds it in being able to say “No” to food. This lack of nutrition often leads to serious health disorders.

In bulimia, the sufferer binges on foods (often high-calorie foods) and then purges by forcing herself to vomit or by using laxatives. Often, the bulimic will indulge in odd diets resulting in weight fluctuations. Self-induced purging is a serious concern since it robs the body of necessary nutrition, can damage organs and cause dehydration.

What to watch for:

Are your children overeating, supersizing and making poor food choices as they gain weight? Are they refusing to exercise, play physical games or participate in sports? Is your child’s BMI over 95 percent for their peer group? If so, they are considered obese.

Is your child unrealistically concerned with being “fat” when she or he is too thin in your estimation? Does your child’s weight fluctuate with no reasonable explanation? Watch for the signs of anorexia or bulimia.

Doreen Nagle is author of “But I Don’t Feel Too Old to Be a Mommy” (HCI, $12.95). She welcomes your parenting tips and concerns at

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