Eating Disorders in Children

What are eating disorders?

Although eating disorders are more common in teenage girls, teenage boys can experience them too.
There are several types of eating disorders but they typically have to do with a preoccupation with
your body image and being thin.

Teens with anorexia eat very little and are at least 15% below their ideal body weight.

Teens with bulimia go through cycles of eating huge amounts of foods followed by purging, either
by vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics, or by spending many hours doing hard physical exercise.

Symptoms of eating disorders:

  • A distorted body image
  • Skipping most meals
  • Abnormal eating habits (eating thousands of calories at one meal or skipping meals)
  • Obsessive weighing
  • Extreme weight change
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Skin rash or dry skin
  • Dental cavities
  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Loss of hair or nail quality
  • Hyperactivity and high interest in exercise
  • Loss of menstruation

Can eating disorders hurt my health?

If left untreated, eating disorders can lead to serious illness and even death.

Along with dangerously low body weight, girls with anorexia or bulimia can lose their menstrual
periods (amenorrhea). This is associated with osteopenia, early bone loss that can lead to
damaging fractures.

Eating disorders are also linked to other serious health problems, such as kidney and heart
disease, as well as extensive cavities and long-term dental problems.

Can eating disorders be treated?

Although there is no quick and easy treatment for eating disorders, yes they are treatable. This can include psychological therapy, nutritional feeding, medical monitoring and medication.

The good news: we’re here to listen, and to help

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we want you to know we care about you and what you’re going through. Please come in and talk to us about any aspect of your body, your weight, your eating habits, your emotions — we’re here for you and we will keep it confidential. If together, we decide you might have an eating disorder and need some help, we’ll give you some options for that, too.

Plus, we have an on-staff nutritionist who can help you make smart, healthy choices about food, calories and nutrition.

Most of all, we want to help you be healthy and happy and feel good about yourself in any way we can.