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Extreme Childhood Eating Disorders Increase in Number according to Report

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A new report by CNN has highlighted the problem of serious eating disorders among children, some as young as ten.

Equally surprising are some of the reasons behind this alarming new trend. While experts point out that certain personality traits may predispose youngsters to develop eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, external pressures such as unrealistic expectations to be thin and beautiful, family problems such as abuse or divorce, or even schoolyard bullying can precipitate some children into developing a full-blown eating disorder.

119 percent increase in hospital admissions for children under the age of 12 for treatment of eating disorders

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, hospital admissions for children under the age of 12 requiring treatment for anorexia and bulimia increased by 119 percent between 1999 and 2006. Experts state that this disturbing trend is showing no sign of slowing down, with children in grades 3 and 4 becoming increasingly susceptible to the serious eating disorders

In the CNN report, the story of a young girl known as Sarah provides some insight into the distorted and obsessive thinking that leads some children to develop restrictive eating habits. In particular, Sarah remembers food treats being used as a reward in her family. She began intentionally restricting food, and at the same time trying to find the hidden treats. At the time, Sarah was unaware that she was forming habits that would negatively impact her attitudes and behaviors around food.

Young children restricting portion sizes to avoid calories

Increasing numbers of young children are exhibiting anxiety about their weight, and with so much current emphasis on obesity, some 3rd and 4th grade kids are restricting portion sizes and skipping meals in order to avoid calories. Overweight children are often the victims of teasing and bullying, another factor that may trigger an obsession with food, and later lead to an eating disorder. Some children use their eating disorder as a means to control some aspect of their life, or as a symbol of their distress.

Sadly, bulimia and anorexia in young children often go unrecognized until a significant amount of weight has been lost, and the eating disorder is seriously affecting the child's physical and psychological health. Experts stress the importance of reaching out for help and getting the child into treatment for their eating disorder as soon as possible.

Source: CNN Health