Could Your Child Be Developing An Eating Disorder?

Though it seems unlikely that eating disorders, like bulimia or anorexia, could begin in childhood, research has pointed out that it is indeed possible. The following are a number of signs that your child could be developing an eating disorder.

1. Weight Loss, Lack of Weight Gain

One of the first signs of an eating disorder in children can be a lack of weight gain, which can be evaluated at his or her annual checkup. Additionally, a weight loss of even 5 to 10 pounds can warrant concern. Still, a lack of weight gain can still be tricky, as doctors are often less likely to be concerned with a thin child than an overweight one.

2. Sudden Change in Eating Habits

Though many children will change how and what they eat over time, some experts suggest that parents should watch for meaningful changes that seem entirely out of character. Refusing to eat certain food groups, like meat or carbohydrates, or skipping meals can be a sign of an eating disorder. Those who decline favorite foods or continuously leave their lunches at home could also be at risk of an eating disorder. New mealtime rituals, like cutting food into tiny pieces or chewing one piece endlessly, are also signs.

3. Significantly Increased Activity

Though overactivity can be difficult to detect in children, a noticeable increase in exercise can be sign of an eating disorder. Exercise excess can be detected if a child’s ambition is burning calories, not playing. If a child is found doing 100 push-ups on the same day he or she has dance class, for example, it may be an indication of an eating disorder.

4. Anxiety and Body Image

Anxiety and body image may go hand-in-hand for children with an eating disorder. Concerns about being “too fat” or some other obsession can often contribute to bulimia or anorexia. A child who spends quite a lot of time in front of the mirror analyzing their body or make negative comments about their image should be monitored. Additionally, children who perform these actions are generally anxious about acceptance, and therefore strive for physical perfection.

Source: U.S. News

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