Does your Tween have an eating disorder?
It used to be that teenage girls topped the list when it came to eating disorders, but that list is now expanding. A new report shows an alarming number of males are now seeking help for eating disorders, too.
In fact, according to the report published by National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), males may account for up to 5 percent of patients with anorexia nervosa, a psychological disorder characterized by delusions that you are too fat, when in fact you are very thin.
Males also account for up to 10 percent of patients with bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder where you binge on large amounts of food and then try to get rid of it by fasting, excessive exercise, taking diet pills, vomiting or using laxatives. In many of the cases, with both boys and girls, this unhealthy behavior is driven in large part by images they see on television, in magazines and on the Internet that are often focused on beauty and self-image.
What’s even more alarming about the report is that parents, who play a critical role in educating their children about their self-image, often miss critical warning signs.
Here are some of the most common signs parents should look for:
- Excessive or rigid exercise routines
- Constant denials of hunger or skipping meals
- Dramatic weight loss or dramatic fluctuations in weight
- Unnatural preoccupation with dieting, weight and food labels
- Changes in clothing to cover up drastic weight loss
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Abuse of laxatives, diet pills as well as self-induced vomiting
If parents notice any of these symptoms, it’s important they intervene early and seek help, health experts say. Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses that can stem from multiple factors. Being an active parent by recognizing when something is wrong and getting the help and support your child and family needs will provide an environment helpful to the recovery process.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.