Eating Disorders Skyrocket Among Children

Childhood should be a time of fun, laughter, and a carefree attitude. Sadly, children are being diagnosed with eating disorders and the numbers are skyrocketing. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, hospitalizations for eating disorders for children under the age of 12 from 1999 and 2006 rose a shocking 119%. Children are worried about being fat. What is causing this to happen to children?

There are many possible factors. It can be linked to personality type. Perfectionism, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive tendencies are commonly linked with eating disorders. The media also plays a role. There is an incredible amount of pressure to look a certain way. Children are in tune with what is going on in the world. They can easily pick up on what the media is putting out there. There is also the idea of food being a reward or a punishment. This can lead to an unhealthy view of foods. (To read about a 9 year old girl’s struggle with an eating disorder, read Child Eating Disorders on the Rise on CNN.com.)

I encourage all parents to keep an eye on this fast-growing problem. Is your child losing weight? Is their hair thinning? Have they changed what they eat or how much they eat? The warning signs are there, so don’t delay if you sense a problem.

Seeking out the help of mental health care professional is recommended if your child has an eating disorder. For more information on how to identify eating disorders, read Understanding Eating Disorders.

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