Does your child suffer eating disorder?

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-The growing number of children diagnosed with eating disorders in the past few year rings an alarm bell. Although these disorders usually start with adolescence, we are now witnessing more children, as young as seven years old, suffering from such disorders, with a continuously increasing number of diagnosed children. The reason behind this increase is not so clear though; it could be due to modern diagnostic methods, which can diagnose these disorders earlier, or due to the increased attention that people (children included) pay to their appearances and their exaggerated or pathological fear of becoming overweight.

-Diagnosing children with eating disorder before adolescence is not so easy, as they vary so vastly in terms of height, weight, and nutrition. The rule of thumb is that the child’s weight shouldn’t go down, as losing weight is a sign that there’s some sort of disorder, not necessarily an eating disorder. Overweight children, for example, might have a digestive disorder, though they might look okay when examined.

-If the child is not eating enough when he should be growing, then his height might be affected. There are more complications that the parents might notice, which indicate that the child has an eating disorder and he is not behaving like children his age, such as being picky about his food.

-Although parents are not considered the direct reason behind their children’s suffering from eating disorders, they are often a driver for it, especially when they keep calling their children fat and overweight. But parents can also be part of the treatment plan of the psychiatrist, as well.

-Pay attention to the following symptoms to know whether your child has an eating disorder or not:

  • Refusing to eat
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Excessive interest and fear about appearance
  • Growth of soft body hair
  • Weight loss or inability to grow
  • Hyperactivity
  • Personality disorder, including depression and irritability.
  • Anger when served food

-Eating disorders, however, manifest differently in different people, and the aforementioned symptoms are not comprehensive. As parents, you can identify symptoms not included in this list, so don’t hesitate to consult a psychiatrist if you think your child might be suffering from any of these disorders.

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