Eating disorders are becoming more and more common among kids and teenagers these days, and for a variety of different reasons. However, while some of these reasons may be the same ones that affected young people decades ago, it’s safe to say that a growing number of them are a consequence of the times. In an era of cyber bullying and social media pressures, some young people scrutinize their lives and are overly critical of every action they undertake. More of them are turning to, or away from, food in efforts to have more control over a world that they sometimes feel they have no place in.
What are the most common eating disorders among young people?
Some eating disorders can cause kids and teens to make dramatic changes to what, and how often, they eat, and can lead to any number of life-threatening conditions and/or irrevocable damage to their bodies. Here are the 3 most common eating disorders among young people today:
Anorexia: where the sufferer refuses to consume enough calories due to an intense irrational fear of gaining weight.
Bulimia: bulimic children purposely over-eat or binge on unhealthy foods, and then attempt to eliminate it from their bodies to prevent weight gain, by vomiting or using laxatives.
Binge-eating: in a similar way to someone who is bulimic, the child will frequently gorge themselves on food, but they won’t go on to purge themselves afterwards.
In some cases, eating disorders can overlap, and the young person can have periods where they are both anorexic and bulimic, for example.
When do eating disorders commonly develop in children, and who suffers the most?
While it can vary from child to child – and some children have been known to suffer from eating disorders at a very young age – they usually develop during adolescence or when the child begins to enter adulthood. Anorexia and bulimia are far more common among females, and the figures for men suffering from binge eating are a little higher.
What causes eating disorders?
Experts typically agree that a combination of biological, behavioral and social factors can influence eating disorders, and with social media and cultural images tending to favor (and even glamorize) underweight bodies, many young people are encouraged to make food and eating choices that are detrimental to their health.
Children who suffer from eating disorders often have low self-esteem and may also experience frequent feelings of helplessness and/or distress. Coping with all these issues is tough for anyone, let alone a child, and some even turn to food as a way of trying to cope with these feelings.
Getting to the cause of the problem and seeking help to combat it is generally seen as the most effective way to control, minimize or end an eating disorder.
If you suspect that your child is suffering from an eating disorder, it’s important that you try to seek professional help for them as soon as possible. Willpower alone is not the key overcome their dangerous eating habits, and seeking treatment will not only help them to restore healthy eating habits, but will address any underlying psychological issues that your child might be experiencing.