Anorexia is a common eating disorder that is making its way into the teen and child populations. More kids than ever before are suffering from negative body image and turning to measures such as self starvation to try and become their ideal person. This warped view of self is a problem leading to severe health issues, and psychological problems. The following are some of the facts about anorexia in kids and teens:
Fact one: Anorexia and other eating disorders are not just an adult disease. The following statistics should give you an idea of how it is spreading to children, and who should be worried.
· Fifty-three percent of 13-year-old girls say they are unhappy with their bodies.
· Seventy-eight percent of 18-year-old girls say they are unhappy with their bodies.
· Nine percent of 9-year-olds admit to having vomited in an attempt to lose weight.
· Forty-two percent of first-, second-, and third-grade girls say they want to be thinner.
Fact two: Anorexia, while mainly a problem that affects girls, is not limited to females. As a parent you need to watch for signs of eating disorders not just in your girls, but also in boys. Knowing what an eating disorder is, and the signs of it can help protect your child from problems.
Fact three: Anorexia and other eating disorders can affect anyone. Too many people think that they are immune to problems like eating disorders, or that they do not have to worry about their child or teenager having that kind of problem. However, the truth is that 8,000,000 or more people in the United States have an eating disorder, of which 90% are women. Those who suffer from eating disorders fall into all levels of social class, income status, race, and culture. And, while most eating disorders start in the teens, they have been seen of late to be starting as early as age eight. So, no child is too young, too rich, too smart, or too male to be immune to anorexia and other eating disorders.
Help your child eat a well-balanced diet.
Fact four: Some kids and teens are more prone to anorexia than others. Statistics have shown that eating disorders are obsessions with food and weight. If you live in a home where food and weight are a really big deal, your risk could be higher. For example, children who grow up in homes where parents are constantly dieting and trying this and that to be thin, or that are always talking about calories, trans fats, and how fat they are, are more likely to go to extremes to keep from gaining weight. Anorexia is one of these extremes. Children grow up in fear of eating because they do not want to gain weight, and thus they worry about calories, fat content, and other things that kids just should not be thinking about that much. If someone in their family suffers from an eating disorder, they watch a lot of television or read a lot of magazines, or have low self esteem, eating disorders such as anorexia are more common.
Fact five: Sometimes anorexia in teens and kids starts out as a measure for attention, and turns into a full blown problem. Today parents work far more, and families spend far less time together. Your child may start saying things like “I’m fat” for attention, and then when it is given to them they may continue to do so until they really think they are fat. The same is true of lack of attention. They might start to self starve in order to try and gain your attention. Often this leads to more severe attempts at thinness. They may exercise too much. Anorexics usually think they’re fat even though they’re very thin. People with anorexia may get so thin that they look like they’re sick, but the attention, positive and negative, that they get from it can reinforce it as a good thing in their mind.
Lastly, anorexia can be treated, but it has a higher success rate, and causes far fewer problems if you catch it early. Watch for warning signs in your child’s eating habits, conversation, and self image, and address them early.