According to studies, the problem of anorexia nervosa most often occurs during puberty. Trying to take after the Instagram models, teenage girls indulge in all sorts of tricks to lose weight at any cost.
Although young men are less inclined to torture themselves with hard diets, such cases are also possible.
Statistics of eating disorders in adolescents 13-18 years
According to 2017 statistics, 5.4% of American children (2.2 million) between the ages of 13 and 18 suffered from anorexia, bulimia, or overeating at some point in their lives.
- about half of them (2.7%) have a moderate eating disorder, while the rest suffer from much more serious problems;
- 3.8% of teens with moderate to severe eating disorders are girls;
- 1.5% of these children are boys.
Unfortunately, patients with anorexia are getting younger!
Regardless of how weird it may sound, visiting a pizzeria and eating ice cream became a great achievement for Miranda on her 8th birthday. Just 3.5 months ago, Miranda was almost 23 pounds lighter than normal, and her body mass index (BMI) was only 12.5.
Although a BMI of less than 18.5 is officially considered inadequate, Miranda continued to refuse not only food but also liquids before being admitted to a specialized clinic.
Here is how Miranda explains what it means to suffer from an eating disorder at such a young age:
It's like a pixie in my tummy who is like the devil and is always fighting me when I want to eat. The pixie was stronger than me, but now I'm a little bit stronger than him. He's getting smaller, and I'm getting bigger, and soon he will have disappeared.
Miranda is far from being the youngest patient who was cured by Dr. Dee Dawson, the director of The Observer clinic. There once was a 6-year-old kid who had all signs of anorexia nervosa.
The age of children suffering from eating disorders is definitely getting younger and younger. The average age of onset used to be 16, but that age is steadily dropping.
How to prevent anorexia and what to do if your child is already at risk?
This disease is easier to prevent than to cure! Here are some symptoms in the behavior of a teenager that should alert parents.
- The desire to lose weight at any cost (including vomiting) with persistent dissatisfaction of the result.
- BMI of a teenager below 17.5.
- Change in emotional state (depression, mood swings, anger outbursts).
- In girls, there is a cessation of menstruation and slower breast development.
If anorexia isn’t prevented in time, the body may undergo irreversible changes when the food isn’t recognized. At this stage, it is almost impossible to treat a patient without the doctors’ help.
Tips for parents
- Try to be a healthy role model.
- Never criticize the child's appearance.
- Pay attention to food quality, not the number of calories.
- Limit the child's access to materials dedicated to dieting and exercising.
- Keep an eye on your child’s eating habits.
Anorexic patients often don’t recognize their disorder. Therefore, parents should be very careful and consult a doctor if necessary.
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