Is Your Child Anorexic? Here Are The Telltale Signs

Anorexia is commonly associated with teen girls, but parents should know that it's not just girls who are in danger of developing a serious eating disorder—and it's not just teens. Boys are also at risk, and children under 12 can also show signs that they're developing a problem. If you're a concerned parent, here are some signs you should look for in your children.

Family History

If a family has had members suffering from weight problems, eating disorders, or psychological illnesses, children are more likely to develop eating disorders. This is not just because an unhealthy relationship to food can be learned; it's also because doctors have found there are genetic and brain chemistry factors associated with eating disorders.

Food Issues

Many children give their parents a hard time at the dinner table; it doesn't necessarily mean that they'll develop an eating disorder. Parents should not take signs lightly, though. Many sufferers of anorexia develop an unhealthy relationship with food from a young age. This may include denial of hunger, refusal to eat, restrictive diets, avoiding activities involving food, obsession with rituals regarding food and mealtime, hiding food, obsessive calorie counting, fad dieting, or going to the bathroom immediately after meals.

Obsession With Looks and Weight

Some children and young teens become obsessed with their looks or their weight. Children and teens may show a fear of becoming obese. Some children may hold a negative or distorted image of their own body. They may see themselves as overweight or as ugly. They may talk about ideal body images.

As children get into their pre-teens and teen years, they may show a growing interest in searching for topics related to weight and body shapes on the internet, or they may become obsessed with physical fitness.

Symptoms of Undernourishment

When a child is undernourished, one clear sign is being underweight. Keep in mind, though, that children who are overweight or even average weight can still have eating disorders.

Other physical symptoms to look out for include paleness, fatigue, lethargy, muscle weakness, dizziness, poor coordination, dry skin, or frequently feeling cold.

Children who are not eating enough may also exhibit confusion, irritability, stress, mood swings, insomnia, social withdrawal, depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts.

If you believe your child may have an eating disorder, discuss it with your family doctor. The earlier an eating disorder is detected, the better your child's chances of recovery.

Sources: Stanford Children's Health, Evolve Treatment Centers, Eating Disorders Hope

Photo: Pixabay

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