Teen Eating Disorders: What Are They? Does My Son/Daughter Have an Eating Disorder?
Teen eating disorders affect many adolescents and youth, determining if they have an eating disorder, and how to address it is not an easy task for parents and loved ones. Eating disorders in teens may be mild or extreme and can easily go undetected by adults. For teens and young adults, there are many challenges as they undergo changes to their physical appearance, struggle to feel comfortable in their bodies, and feel pressured to look a certain way by classmates, school, the media, and the internet. Disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia can have serious effects and consequences for youth struggling with them. There are also serious and often fatal illnesses that are associated with severe disturbances in adolescents’ eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Preoccupation with food, body weight, and shape may also signal an eating disorder. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
In the United States, as many as 10 in 100 young women suffer from an eating disorder. Two psychiatric eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia, are on the increase among teenage girls and young women and often run in families. These two eating disorders also occur in boys, but less often. Symptoms of anorexia nervosa and bulimia are characterized by a preoccupation with food and a distortion of body image. Many teenagers hide these serious and sometimes fatal disorders from their families and friends.