Conditions

Eating Disorders

Eating disorder

Anorexia and bulimia can affect anyone, but they are most common in teenage girls. One in a hundred teenagers – 90 per cent of them girls – suffer from anorexia at some point, and for parents it’s very distressing to see your child suffering the weight loss, the obsession with dieting and the distorted self-image associated with an eating disorder. In severe cases the problem can be fatal.

For both anorexic and bulimic kids, weight loss is an obsession. Anorexics won’t eat, will appear significantly underweight (15 per cent below their recommended body mass index), and yet believe they are fat. Even though anorexics can develop a fear of eating, food itself can also become a secret obsession. Anorexia usually starts during the teens, but if kids haven’t reached puberty yet, anorexia can delay it. In girls, periods can become irregular or stop, and there’s a general lack of energy, moodiness, and inability to concentrate or sleep.

Bulimia means kids binge on food and then either make themselves sick to get rid of it, or use a laxative. ‘Purging’ can happen anything from a couple of times a week to a couple of times a day. The symptoms and consequences of bulimia are similar to that of anorexia, with other issues such as dehydration and kidney problems caused by regular vomiting or use of laxatives.

Eating disorders have no one specific cause but experts agree on a number of contributory factors. For some kids, pictures of skinny models can make them feel pressurised or inadequate about their own weight. Anxiety, depression or other problems at home may be a trigger. There may be a genetic predisposition too.

As well as the weight loss caused by eating disorders, keep an eye out for kids finding excuses not to eat, developing a new obsession with food or going to the loo straight after eating to get rid of it.

It can be very hard to talk to someone with an eating disorder about the problem. If you are worried, try and raise the topic gently, don’t knock their self-esteem and do talk to a school nurse or doctor. There’s a great deal of support available for sufferers and their families, and dozens of celebrities have described how they have overcome eating disorders and emerged from the problem healthy and fit.

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Hi I'm 21 n had a problems with putting weight on for mean years my weight is 6.10 I don't eat much I eat when I'm hungry but it's only ever Lil bit my 5 year old nice eats more than I do but iv tried going to the doctors n they have done test like checking my thyroid n that come back ok so they just told me iv just meant to be skinny but I'm always tired in the day time n got got much strenth to open things I know I need help but where can I get it from please help me thanks





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I'm only 14 and I only eat 1 time during the weekend what do I do





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I think I do have anorexia but I can't tel. I would skip lunch but because I have CS everyone thought it I was that Ill that I just wasn't hungry my support teacher has now stood over me at lunchtimes and is pushing me to finish EVERYTHING. My school serve really big portions I will hardly ever clear a plate or if I do I will purge to aviod weight gain What do I do





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I'm really skinny by I eat a lot, not all healthy food I do tend to eat some junk food but I wouldn't say anything out of the ordinary. I get quite down as I never seem to put on any weight some may look at it as a good thing but I'm really self conscious about the way I look. I've been told it could be down to a high matabolism but what can I do to help me improve my body mass?? Any feedback woul be great.





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hello im 15 ive been suffering stomach aches and vomiting, I use to be 9stone but now im 7 and its taking over my life I have no energy since this illness has started what could it be?





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hi i neet help on lossing weigh. i just dont like that way i look. i have tryed everything know i dont know what to do. plzzz help me thank you.





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Hi I need some help in losing 1 stone . I just can't stop eating!. I'm constantly hungry . Everyday I say tomorrw il go on a diet but I fail! And it is really affecting me. If anyone please could help or either suggest any weight loss pills that work , thanks





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Hi I really need some support first of all I'm not that over weight I need to lose 1 stone. But the problem is I over eat am constantly hungry and can't stop eating . Everyday I promise my self tomorrw il go on a dirt but I still can't and every day I fail! Is there anyone who can give me any ideas or may be suggest any weight Loss pills that work?i would really appreciate it . Thank you





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my 8 year old daughter. never tries new foods, wants to eat junk all the time. far to picky. constant battle. she likes plain food like dried cheapy noodles. she has a love for take away, fast food also why?





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Hi, my son is 9 years old.since he was a toddler I have had problems with him eating. he do's ask for food but when its in front of him he changes his mind and say's he can't eat it.It is not that he eats too much sweets are junk food no matter what he wants he cant seem to eat. at the minute he eats a couple of biscuits for breakfast, he takes a bag of crisp to school for dinner half of which come home at tea time with him. I'm very concerned about his future health and of how thin he hi.





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I've no miracle cure, you are not alone my son is the same, it's a real worry but I've tried everything, through the HHS and privately.


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Content supplied by NHS Choices

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. Read More »