Eating Disorders Often Go Unnoticed

Eating disorders are common. Their prevalence among tweens and teenagers has increased significantly in recent decades.

Teenage girls are noted to be affected 8 times more frequently as compared to boys.

It is the third most common illness among teenagers.

Changing body structure with
setting in of menarche in girls
may be perceived as teenage obesity and its devastating consequences.

The normal milestones of
teenage development often act as triggers of the disorders in eating practices.

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Psychological Stages During Teenage Development
Trigger Eating Disorder

Psychological Stages

  1. Increased awareness of body changes during early teenage years.

  2. Increased self awareness during middle teenage.

  3. Identity consciousness during late teens


Fear of growing up.


Worry for future, fear of unknown Need for control

Contributing factors

95 percent of the affected are teenagers and young adults, between the ages of 12 and 25. Most reported cases are from the western countries and from well provided societies. However, the eating related disorders are seen across all ages, all races and all strata of the society.

Eating Disorders Trigger Mechanism

Many eating disorders have genetic, emotional and psychological issues at their roots. Therefore they frequently co-exist with other psychological disturbances like depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

In addition, the modern society has unrealistic expectations for thinness as the ideals of beauty, which are regularly communicated in various forms through media. Consequently, many children develop poor self-concept, negative body image and low self-esteem.

Furthermore, the dramatic increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity during the past decade has laid further emphasis on dieting and weight loss among tween and teenagers.

Western statistics show that 50 percent of the girls between the ages of 11 and 13 years consider themselves as overweight, and 80 percent of 13 years old have attempted weight reduction regimes.

Diminished food intake is much more than just being on diet. It is the outward presentation of a serious emotional turmoil going on deep inside the tween and teenagers. The disorders often go unnoticed for a long time. Consequently, the serious health issues that set in can even get life threatening.

Distorted eating practices are real chronic medical illness of tween and teenage, warranting immediate medical attention. Their awareness equips us to recognize them and provide the necessary support before it gets too late. When treated adequately and in good time complete recovery is possible.

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Common Eating Disorders

Treatment of Eating Disorders

Adequate nutrition, reducing excessive exercise, and stopping purging behaviours are the foundations of treatment.

Treatment plans are tailored to individual needs and may include one or more of the following:

Some patients may also need to be hospitalized. Medical problems caused by malnutrition need to be treated efficiently and promptly. Besides, the patients that are severely underweight, need to be under observation till their emotional and psychological status improves, and their food intake is normalized.

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Related pages of interest

Binge Eating: A Cry for Help

When to Suspect Binge Eating in Children and Teenagers

Binge Eating: Treatment

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa: Treatment

Food Addiction

Eating Disorders among Teens:A Personal Experience

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