Home > Coping > Kids and Eating Disorders

Kids and Eating Disorders

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 26 Dec 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Childrenchildren And Eating

Children who are still growing and developing need a healthy diet to fuel all of this activity. At times children go through food phases or become picky eaters but these phases are distinct from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.

Unfortunately, eating disorders are on the increase among older children and teens and most develop these disorders between 11 and 13 years of age. The good news is that there is much that can be done to prevent eating disorders from developing, and many signs that can alert family and friends to the need for professional help.

Preventing Eating Disorders

Very few young children develop eating disorders, but even by the end of primary school children are beginning to become interested in the opposite sex, aware of fashion, trends and personal appearance and to drift into puberty when they find their bodies changing very rapidly and without their consent.

At this time many girls begin to become curvy and develop breasts, as well as retain a little more weight, which can be a danger period if they are determined that they must remain at a certain weight or size of clothing. Family and friends can help prevent eating disorders at these ages by:

  • Insisting upon a varied, healthy diet for everyone.
  • Encouraging appropriate amounts of exercise for health and fun.
  • Barring dieting for children.
  • Engaging in regular discussions about school, life, dreams, etc with all children.
  • Listening to children’s thoughts on weight and body image.
  • Helping children retain realistic expectations about healthy weight and image.
  • Praising children’s talents and skills.
  • Reminding children regularly that they are loved and valued.

Signs of Eating Disorders

Many children are able to hide the signs and symptoms of eating disorders for months or even years, which can put their health at great risk. There are many behaviours that can signal an eating disorder, however, such as:
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • Continuous dieting or discussions of dieting.
  • Fear of weight gain.
  • Persistent preoccupation with food/eating/weight.
  • Persistent preoccupation with fashion, clothes sizes and/or personal appearance.
  • Eating while alone or in secret.
  • Hidden food or laxatives/diuretics.
  • “Grazing” or eating all day or for as long as food is on offer.
  • Vomiting – or regularly retiring to the toilet – after meals.
  • Frequently running the taps while in the toilet (to cover evidence of vomiting).
  • Swollen cheeks and/or bad breath (from vomiting).
  • Excessive exercising to burn calories.

Getting Help for Suspected Eating Disorders

Children with eating disorders will rarely acknowledging their behaviours and ask for help on their own. Instead, it is usually up to family and friends to interpret the signs and insist upon professional help. With eating disorders, the earlier that help is sought and treatment implemented the less the damage to a child’s long-term health.

Rather than soliciting professional help in secret, however, it is advisable that the situation is discussed with the child in question. Explaining why it is believed that help is needed, and what will be required of the child, will help keep everyone on the same page.

For further information on eating disorders and getting help for eating disorders, contact the National Centre for Eating Disorders or the Eating Disorders Association.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
My 14 year daughter is shutting herself away, other kids say she's fat and ugly now wont engage with family skips meals surviving on toast please is this eating disorder as her weight is dropping too
rach - 26-Dec-15 @ 4:04 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • dorahallows
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I started eating walls in my early teens and I go through phases where I can control it and don't get the urge to eat it anymore but the past two…
    16 April 2018
  • JoJO
    Re: Pica Disorder
    @Kay - you really need to see a doctor about this because it is not right and it could ruin your health. Please seek some advice.
    13 April 2018
  • Kay
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I have a problem i eat walls so much and i dont know how to controll it im only 13 and i been eating wall for 6 years. All around my house i had made…
    13 April 2018
  • TamsO
    Re: Eating by Texture
    @ Paul - can you drink smoothies and fruit juice? Vitamin tablets are an option to consider also, but they don't replace the fibre. There are…
    12 April 2018
  • Paul
    Re: Eating by Texture
    Ever since I can remember I have had real issues with the texture of fruit and veg to the point where I’m gagging and almost to the point where…
    10 April 2018
  • Bloom
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I eat wall white putti(white cement) applied on the wall since 12 ,every time my parents use to paint it and I used to ruin it by eating. They took me…
    8 April 2018
  • Imbubblezz
    Re: Eating by Texture
    I feel like I have found my long, lost family! I keep reading about AFRID, bit it speaks about underweight people - and this most definitely is…
    5 April 2018
  • Hof
    Re: Oesophagus Problems for Bulimics
    @Andprice - if you have been bulimic for over 20 years, then it is likely you will have some stomach problems as a result.…
    3 April 2018
  • Andprice
    Re: Oesophagus Problems for Bulimics
    I've been in recovery for ten years...with very mild lapses (e.g. Forced vomiting after drinking excessively although this is…
    2 April 2018
  • KerryH
    Re: Heart Problems and Eating Disorders
    Butterfly84... Unfortunately, if you do not eat then your body will continue to defy you. The stomach distention will…
    22 March 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the EatingDisorderExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.