Teenager Eating Disorders

Teenage Eating DisordersEating disorders are a serious problem, not only because they are so damaging and even deadly, but because they are a wide-spread problem. As many as 10 in 100 teen age girls suffer from an eating disorder, which also exists among boys. The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Anorexia nervosa is when a girl purposefully eats little or no food in order to be thin. One in ten cases of anorexia result in starvation, cardiac arrest, other medical complications or suicide, and anorexia can cause other reactions like body hair growth, dental diseases, mood swing, depression, and lack of mental focus. Bulimia is when a person eats- sometimes normally but usually binge eating- and then forces her or himself to throw up the food later. Bulimia can cause dehydration, hormonal imbalance, the depletion of important minerals, damage to the throat and teeth, and damage to vital organs.

Signs of anorexia are excessive thinness, an obsession with being thin or other people’s bodies, low self-esteem, and a need for perfection. Signs of bulimia are fluctuating weight, alternating diets, constant commentary on body weight, and long periods spent in the bathroom with running water.

Teenagers, if you find that you have an unhealthy relationship with food, do not be embarrassed to seek help. Researching eating disorders, the causes, and positive body image can help, because knowledge is empowering. Let someone know what you are going through; there is ample professional help available, and admitting your problem to someone is an indication of your strength and common sense, not of weakness.

Parents or friends of other teenagers who suspect someone might be struggling with this issue- do not be shy or worry about hurting this person’s feelings. This is a serious matter. Confront them in a sensitive, understanding way- but be extremely persistent.