Teenagers often eat differently from the rest of the family and dieting is common, especially in girls. So how do you know when your child crosses the line and develops an eating disorder?
Anorexia affects 1 in 200 teenage girls (1 in 2,000 boys). Patients have an intense fear of gaining weight or getting fat, no matter how thin they become. Signs include:
- A loss of at least 15 percent body weight, due to refusing food.
- Thinking they are fat even when thin
- Excessive exercising.
- Preoccupation with food and dieting.
- Eating very little. Choosy about food.
- Loss of menstrual periods.
- Hiding food, avoiding eating with others, cutting food into tiny pieces.
Up to 1 in 50 girls (1 in 500 boys) has bulimia. With this condition, there are repeated bouts of binge eating, followed by attempts to compensate by dieting, vomiting and using laxatives or fluid tablets. Regularly going to the bathroom (to vomit) after meals can be a clue. Often people with bulimia are not underweight and the diagnosis is less obvious.
Both conditions are serious and can be life-threatening. However, most recover with early treatment. Management may consist of counselling, medication, dietary advice and hospital admission to correct malnutrition. For more information, speak to your doctor or visit www.cyh.sa.gov.au. Kids can ring Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.