Eating disorder in Children

Eating disorders are serious illnesses that affect both the physical and socio-emotional health of young people; eating disorders are rare in the general population, they are relatively common in teenagers and young women. Body image concerns occur frequently among adolescents leading to dieting or feeling sense of shame for how they look. They are characterized by distortions in the perception of body shape and weight coupled with severe disturbances in eating patterns. It has profound impact on development due to the early age of onset and other physical consequences. Other mental health problems such as anxiety and mood disorders can frequently occur with eating disorders.

Types of eating disorders:
Anorexia Nervosa – reflects symptoms of self-starvation and weight preoccupations. It includes restriction of energy intake leading to low body weight; fear of gaining weight or behavior that interferes with weight gain; and self-evaluation unduly influenced by weight and body shape.
Bulimia Nervosa – It includes recurrent binge-eating where a binge is defined as consuming a very large amount of food in a discrete period of time, such as within two hours, and a sense of loss of control over eating during that episode; along with recurrent compensatory behavior, such as vomiting, fasting, exercise, laxative use, diuretic use, taking diet pills; and self-evaluation unduly influenced by weight and body shape.
Early warning signs of an eating disorder include:
A constant focus on dieting, food and exercise .
Insisting on having different meals from the rest of the family .
Feeling stressed when unable to exercise
Increasing social withdrawal .
Frequent weighing .
Frequent visits to the bathroom after meals.
Studies show risk factors for eating disorders, involve social and family environment and the media. The influence of the media and social environment has been related to idealization of thinness. As to family environment, mealtimes appeared to be fundamental in shaping eating behavior and the development of disorders. Eating disorders were associated with nutritional problems (growing impairment and weight gain), oral health, and social discrimination or preference based on body dynamics.