Monday, February 24, 2014

Does My Child Have an Eating Disorder?


Blog contributed by Kathleen Zimmerman, MD,  Pediatrician

If you are asking this question, then your child needs to be seen by his or her provider.  Over the past decade the United States and other parts of the world have seen steady increases in the incidence of anorexia (nervosa) and bulimia for both females and males.  There is also an increasing trend for younger children to develop eating disorders as well as teens.  Eating disorders present with many different signs and symptoms.  Sometimes these are difficult to detect if your child is hiding them.   Here are a few that should raise a flag and prompt you to bring your child to the office:

  1. Constantly worried about their size or weight
  2. Not eating as much food as they used to but insisting they ate when you weren't around
  3. Binge eating large amounts of foods 
  4. Menstrual period is becoming irregular or skipping months
  5. Intense exercise more than 1-2  hours per day and they are very stressed if they miss a workout
  6. Symptoms: cold intolerance, dizziness,  abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, muscle cramps, looks pale and weak
  7. Either parent has a history of eating disorder

Your provider will measure height, weight, BMI and get a thorough diet and exercise history.  They may need to talk with your child alone.  Follow up appointments will be important to track the weight.

Early detection of eating disorders is important to prevent serious consequences.  So, even if your child denies there is a problem, it is important to have your provider evaluate any concerning eating behaviors or weight changes.

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