3 Types Of Eating Disorders In Children And Their Effects

eating disorders

Image: Shutterstock

Online and print media splashes us with images of skinny, thin-framed models strutting down the ramp and we tend to think that eating disorders only affect women. Think again!

Children are also susceptible to eating disorders and problems related to it. They can’t be overcome with only a strong willpower but your child will need medical treatment to get their body weight to normalcy and also determine underlying psychological issues.

Eating Disorders In Children:

Doctors are not quite certain to what causes eating disorders in children; it is a combination of biological, psychological, behavioral and social factors that may determine the onset of an eating disorder.

  • Identifying eating problems in children is more difficult because children differ in body weight and have growth spurts.
  • Eating disorders may lead to a major change in eating habits and later on is a cause for various health problems.

Types Of Eating Disorders In Children:

The three main types of child eating disorders are:

1. Anorexia:

This is a condition where in a child refuses to eat adequately or doesn’t consume the needed calories due to irrational fear of becoming fat. Anorexic children have a distorted body image; they are obsessed with being thin and hence refuse to eat even the minimal calorie intake. Most of them live in denial regarding suffering from the disorder.

a. Symptoms Of Anorexia:

  • Constant Anxiety, depression.
  • Fear of becoming fat, even though one is underweight.
  • Irregular Menstruation either infrequent or stops.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Weird eating habits, always keeping tabs on what one eats and monitoring every bite of food taken.
  • Eating only small amounts of only certain foods and having unusual interest in food.
  • Constantly dieting or obsessed with exercising even though one is thin.

[ Read: Healthy Food For Picky Eaters ]

b. Health Risks Of Anorexia:

  • It can damage major organs especially kidneys, heart and brain.
  • Low blood pressure, low pulse and breathing rates.
  • Thinning of the bones causing osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
  • One out of ten cases of Anorexia is fatal, the main cause of death being cardiac arrest, electrolyte imbalance and suicide.

c. Treating Anorexia:

  • The main aim of the treatment is to bring the kid back to normal weight and eating habits.
  • At times hospitalization may be need even for weeks depending on the severity of the case.
  • Some may need long term treatment to determine underlying psychological issues.
  • Treatments may consist of prescribing antidepressants, psychotherapy and behavioral therapy, attending support groups.

2. Bulimia:

This is a condition where in a kid overeats (thru binge-eating) and then purges the food by self-induced vomiting or taking laxatives.

  • Bulimics repeatedly eat food in a short amount of time this is then followed by guilt of overeating and the fear of weight gains ends with self-induced vomiting.
  • Some also turn to diet pills, diuretics and enemas.
  • Doctors make a diagnosis of bulimia after a person has two or more episodes per week for at least three months.
  • Kids with bulimia usually fluctuate within normal weight range, although there are some who are overweight too.

[ Read: Food Allergy In Children ]

a. Symptoms Of Bulimia:

  • Constant use of laxative, diet pills to prevent weight gain.
  • Secretly eating and unusual eating habits.
  • Mood swings and anxiety.
  • Binge-eating on large amounts of food.
  • Excessive exercises.
  • Spending unusual amounts of time in the bathroom.
  • Also due to the constant vomiting of stomach acids it damages the tooth enamel, swelling of the salivary glands and inflammation of the esophagus.

b. Treatment For Bulimia:

  • The treatment mainly tries to break the binge-purging behavior. Few of them are;
  • Behavior modification.
  • Group, Family or individual therapy.

3. Binge-Eating Disorder:

This is a condition of compulsive overeating without purging or vomiting. It is out of control overeating of large amounts of food in a short period of time even to the level of causing discomfort.

  • Since binge-eaters doesn’t vomit after eating, as a result they tend to be overweight.
  • They are in constant struggle with their emotions and don’t know how to handle it and find it comfort in food.
  • They end up overeating and feeling guilty than before and hence get caught up in a vicious cycle.

a. Typical Characteristics Of Binge-Eating:

  • Overeating in a short time frame to the point of discomfort.
  • Inability to control what they are eating or to be able to stop eating.
  • Eating while not hungry.
  • Feeling guilty or shameful after eating.

b. Treatment For Binge-Eating:

  • Binge-eating disorder is also considered as a serious medical condition that can be treated.
  • Treatment is quite challenging since binge-eaters are in denial and are ashamed of their disorder.
  • Treatment mostly involves a combination of psychotherapy, medication and nutrition counseling.

Precautions And Cautionary Tips:

How can you avoid your child from developing an eating disorder? Well, this is where parents have a huge role to play in the development of a child.

  • To ensure your child isn’t suffering from eating disorders you need to arm yourself with the awareness on these issues and by keeping an open communication channel with your child by discussing topics like ideal body image or dieting and how to deal with stress can be helpful.
  • Being intuitive towards your child’s behavior would help you grasp if anything is amiss earlier on. Children are keen observers hence as a parent if you have low self-esteem about your body that is exactly what your child will be picking up on as well.
  • Most important of all is giving your child the gift of unconditional love and being a support system he or she can bank on!

[ Read: Home Remedies To Treat Allergies In Children ]

If your child is diagnosed with an eating disorder, don’t panic or lose heart. It is treatable, provided you are strong and calm enough to provide the tough love and consistent care your child needs.

Hope you found our exhaustive info helpful, do share with us your thoughts as well.

Recommended Articles:

The following two tabs change content below.
Featured Image