Adolescent Eating Disorders on the Rise- What Parents Should Know

Adolescent Eating Disorders

If you’re a parent of a teenager, you may be wondering what the best way is to deal with their sudden change in eating habits. You’re not alone- research shows that adolescent eating disorders are on the rise. Here we’ll explore what parents should know about adolescent eating disorders and how to best support their child. 

An adolescent eating disorder is an illness where a person experiences severe disturbances in their eating habits. 

Adolescent eating disorders are not just complicated dietary choices but can be related to mental illness. They involve extreme behaviors like severe restriction of food intake or binging and purging. If a teen suffers from this disorder, the effects can be long lasting and require immediate attention. It is important that parents and guardians recognize the warning signs and take steps to support adolescents suffering from an eating disorder. Treatment for eating disorders can involve individual, family and group therapy and nutrition counseling to help adolescents recover from the physical and emotional complications of this condition. 

Eating disorders are much more common in girls than boys, with rates of up to three times higher. 

Eating disorders are particularly prevalent in girls. Research has shown that up to three times as many girls suffer from such conditions compared to boys. Unfortunately, these conditions have become increasingly common over time due to the body image pressures on this demographic, which can manifest in extreme behaviors towards food, exercise, and weight management. Although eating disorders can affect anyone of any age, gender or background, young women remain the most vulnerable when it comes to developing disordered eating behavior. 

The most common types of adolescent eating disorders include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. 

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the most prevalent types of adolescent eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by low body weight, even though the individual may have a normal or higher than average appetite. Those dealing with this disorder deny themselves food, sometimes to dangerously low levels. Conversely, bulimia nervosa involves consistently overeating followed by purging or other compensatory behaviors to avoid gaining weight. Both disorders can have dangerous side effects and should be addressed if anyone suspects they may be suffering from either one. Fortunately, there are treatments available that are proven to help those struggling with eating disorders find their way back to health. 

Symptoms of adolescent eating disorders can include drastic weight loss or gain, preoccupation with food and body image, and extreme mood swings. 

Adolescent eating disorders can have a wide range of symptoms that, if left untreated, could lead to long term physical and mental health issues. Eating disorder symptoms in teens may appear as drastic weight loss or gain, an intense preoccupation with food and body image, extreme mood swings, and a focus on calorie counting or perceived shortcomings. Although it may be difficult to recognize these signs, they often indicate that professional help is needed.  

Parents should be aware of the warning signs of adolescent eating disorders and seek help if they notice any changes in their child’s behavior or appearance. 

It’s especially important to remain vigilant and observe children for any changes in behavior or appearance related to their eating habits. If you notice warning signs of an eating disorder in your adolescent child, don’t hesitate to seek out professional help. There are a variety of ways to get support – from mental health professionals such as psychologists and nutritionists to charitable organizations that specialize in this area.  


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Written by Alexis George

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