Types Of Media Exposure
Todays children and adolescents grow up in a world flooded with the mass media . Staggering statistics reveal that, on average, a child or adolescent watches up to 5 h of television per day and spends an average of 6 to 7 h viewing the various media combined .
These cultural standards may well explain, in part, why many adolescents are preoccupied with their bodies and dissatisfied with their body image, and are willing to try a variety of dangerous weight-loss practices in their quest for the perfect body.
Body Image And Dieting
- Roughly 25 million men and 43 million women are dieting to lose weight. Another 21 million men and 26 million women are dieting to maintain weight. In total, there are nearly 116 million adults dieting at any given time ârepresenting about 55% of the total adult population.
- 91% of women surveyed on a college campus in the mid-90s had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”
- 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.
Treatment Principles Across The Eating Disorder Spectrum
The ultimate goals of care in eating disorders are that children and adolescents are nourished back to their full healthy weight and growth trajectory, that their eating patterns and behaviors are normalized, and that they establish a healthy relationship with food and their body weight, shape, and size as well as a healthy sense of self. Independent of a specific DSM diagnosis, treatment is focused on nutritional repletion and psychological therapy. Psychotropic medication can be a useful adjunct in select circumstances.
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Eating Disorder Statistics By Sex
- Eating disorders were more prevalent among young women than men in the U.S. as of 2001-2004.
- A quarter of those with anorexia are male. Men have an increased risk of dying because they are diagnosed much later than women. This could be in part due to the misconception that men do not experience eating disorders.
Dental And/or Oral Effects
Patients with eating disorders experience higher rates of dental erosion and caries. This occurs more frequently in those who self-induce emesis but can also be observed in those who do not. Normal dental findings do not preclude the possibility that purging is occurring. Hypertrophy of the parotid and other salivary glands, accompanied by elevations in serum amylase concentrations with normal lipase concentrations, may be a clue to vomiting. Xerostomia, from either salivary gland dysfunction or psychiatric medication side effect, can reduce the oral pH, which can lead to increased growth of cariogenic oral bacteria.,
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Avoidant/restrictive Food Intake Disorder
In avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, a person is unable to or refuses to eat certain foods based on texture, color, taste, temperature, or aroma. The condition can lead to weight loss, inadequate growth, nutritional deficiencies, and impaired psychosocial functioning, such as an inability to eat with others. Unlike anorexia nervosa, there are not weight or shape concerns or intentional efforts to lose weight.
For instance, a child may consume only a very narrow range of foods and refuse even those foods if they appear new or different. This type of eating disorder commonly develops in childhood and can affect adults as well.
Children & Young Adults Eating Disorder Statistics
- 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.16
- 81% of 10 year old children are afraid of being fat.17
- 46% of 9-11 year-olds are sometimes or very often on diets.18
- 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.19
- In a college campus survey, 91% of the women admitted to controlling their weight through dieting.20
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What Has Changed In The Pandemic
There are several possible explanations for this tsunami of eating concerns in teenagers. When adolescents lost the familiar rhythm of the school day and were distanced from the support of their friends, many of the things that structured a teenagers life evaporated in one fell swoop, said Dr. Walter Kaye, a psychiatrist and the founder and executive director of the eating disorders program at the University of California, San Diego. People who end up with eating disorders tend to be anxious and stress sensitive they dont do well with uncertainty.
Further, eating disorders have long been linked with high achievement. Driven adolescents who might have normally poured their energy into their academic, athletic or extracurricular pursuits suddenly had too much time on their hands. Some kids turned their attention toward physical health or appearance as a way to cope with anxiety or feel productive, Dr. Accurso said. Their goals around healthy eating or getting in shape got out of hand and quickly caused significant weight loss.
In many households the pandemic has heightened food insecurity and its attendant anxieties, which can increase the risk of eating disorders. Research shows that, compared to teenagers whose families have enough food, those in homes where food is scarce are more likely to fast, to skip meals, and to abuse laxatives and diuretics with the aim of controlling their weight.
Eating Disorders Among Athletes
Athletes are under enormous pressure to perform well and be physically in shape. However, this pressure can lead to disordered eating habits and the development of eating disorders.
Available data on the prevalence of eating disorders in athletesinclude:
- A study cited by the National Eating Disorders Association reported that more than one-third of female Division 1 NCAA athletes held attitudes and symptoms of anorexia nervosa
- In a study of female Division II athletes, 25 percent struggled with disordered eating
- Of athletes in weight-class and aesthetic sports, approximately 33 percent of men and 62 percent of women struggle with disordered eating
- One multi-university study of 204 female collegiate athletes in 17 different sports reported that 2 percent had an eating disorder and more than 25 percent exhibited eating disorder symptoms
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What Eating Disorders Diagnoses Are Commonly Seen In Young Children
- Avoidant/ Restrictive Food Intake Disorder : Lack of interest in food, limited diet due to sensory issues, or food refusal related to fears of aversive experiences
- Eating Disorder Not Elsewhere Classified : Dysregulated eating that does not fit all diagnostic criteria of AN, BN, or BED
- Anorexia Nervosa : Significantly low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, distorted body image, and persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Eating Disorder In Children
The signs and symptoms of eating disorders can vary from person-to-person and also depend on the type of eating disorder. However, if you notice a combination of the following signs in your child, it may be that they have developed, or are starting to develop, an eating disorder.
- Pressure from the media to be thin
- Having hobbies where being thin is seen as important, such as dancing or athletics
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Differences In Children And Tweens
Children and tweens are less likely to have disturbances in body image, often seen as the hallmark of an eating disorder. Thus, a parent whose child loses weight and shows less interest in eating, but doesnt express fear of being fat, may be thrown off course.
Young patients with eating disorders are more likely to be male than older patients with eating disorders. Younger patients with eating disorders are also less likely to report bingeing or purging and are less likely to have tried diuretics or laxatives to lose weight. A diagnosis of avoidant restrictive intake disorder is also more common in younger patients.
Instead of rapid weight loss, younger patients may fail to make expected gains in weight or height. Children and adolescents who start out in higher weight categories may develop eating disorders and are at risk for delayed diagnosis.
Any weight loss in a growing child is not normal and should always be a cause for concern.
Exercise, a common symptom of an eating disorder in older teens and adults, may also appear different in children and tweens. Younger people are less likely to engage in goal-directed exercise such as running or going to the gym. Yet, they may exhibit behaviors that look like hyperactivity such as running around, pacing, and refusing to sit when others do such as while watching television.
Crisis Care At Priory
Priorys customer service team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure that those in crisis can be signposted to the best possible support, as quickly as possible. The specialist teams at our residential facilities can help to stabilise those in need of immediate assistance for their eating disorder or other mental health concerns.
Get in Touch Today
For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding eating disorders, please call 0800 840 3219 or . For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here
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Risk Factors For Eating Disorders
We don’t know why some older children , particularly adolescents, develop an eating disorder and others don’t. However, many factors might influence an adolescent to develop an unhealthy eating pattern or to become afraid of gaining weight. These factors may be psychological, social, environmental or biological.
Often, a combination of things may trigger an eating disorder in a vulnerable person.
What Are The Causes Of Eating Disorders In Younger Children
Many parents wonder, Why is my child not eating? or Why cant my child eat normally? The answer is usually not simple.
Its important to realize that the causes are different for every child, and that parents are never the cause. But parents can be part of the solution.
Here are some things that can make a child more likely to have an eating disorder:
- Some kind of trauma related to eating
- Bullying at school
- A family history of eating disorders
- History of feeding struggles
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Eating Disorders In Teens Have Exploded In The Pandemic
Heres what parents need to know.
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By Lisa Damour
As a psychologist who cares for adolescents I am well aware of the prevalence of eating disorders among teenagers. Even still, I am stunned by how much worse the situation has become in the pandemic.
According to the psychologist Erin Accurso, the clinical director of the eating disorders program at the University of California, San Francisco, our inpatient unit has exploded in the past year, taking in more than twice as many adolescent patients as it did before the pandemic. Dr. Accurso explained that outpatient services are similarly overwhelmed: Providers arent taking new clients, or have wait-lists up to six months.
The demand for eating disorder treatment is way outstretching the capacity to address it, said the epidemiologist S. Bryn Austin, a professor at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health and research scientist in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Boston Childrens Hospital. Im hearing this from colleagues all across the country. Even hotlines are swamped. The National Eating Disorders Association helpline has had a 40 percent jump in overall call volume since March 2020. Among callers who shared their age over the last year, 35 percent were 13 to 17 years old, up from 30 percent in the year before the pandemic.
What Do We Know About Eating Disorders In Teens
The teenage years are a time of rapid physical, mental and social change and can present both opportunities and challenges. Some teens are able to manage this time of transition very well while others may struggle to adapt.
Teens who develop eating disorders are showing signs of a personal struggle.
All teens have worries and concerns. However, teens with an eating disorder may be experiencing worries and fears that intensify and progressively take over their lives.
They may be worried about not having friends, how to manage the demands of school and part-time work, their appearance, a family separation, dating, bullying, future plans, etc. These worries may cause them to feel that they are “not good enough” which may make them anxious, angry or sad. They may become stressed and feel they are losing their self-confidence and sense of control over their lives.
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The Impact Of Eating Disorders
- About one person dies every hour as a direct result of an eating disorder.
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
- Anorexia is the most deadly mental illness. One study found that people with anorexia are 56 times more likely to commit suicide than people without an eating disorder.
- Up to half of the people with an eating disorder misused alcohol or illicit drugs at a rate five times higher than the general population.
- The vast majority of people hospitalized for an eating disorder have a co-occurring health condition. Mood disorders, like major depression, are the primary underlying condition followed by anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorder.
- Diabetes patients who have an eating disorder, struggle with controlling their diabetes, which exposes them to diabetic complications such as heart disease, stroke, neuropathy, loss of vision, and kidney disease.
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How Do You Manage Barriers To Families Accepting Treatment Recommendations
Parents vary in awareness of need for and readiness to receive treatment. Children typically do not recognize their symptoms as a problem and are often resistant to treatment.
Given the necessity of parental involvement in treatment, while considering parents level of readiness and acceptance of treatment, evaluating teams should convey clinical information while developing rapport essential to facilitating acceptance of treatment recommendations.
Encourage parents to elaborate on their concerns to improve rapport and diminish resistance.
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Eating Disorders In Children
The thought of having a young child develop an eating disorder is difficult and painful. Unfortunately, in more recent years, the number of children diagnosed with eating disorders has been on the rise. Although the onset of eating disorders is most typically documented in adolescents, prepubescent children can and do develop them. Children as young as 7 are being diagnosed and treated for eating disorders.
Children are increasingly becoming affected by diet culture and body shame. Studies show 40%-60% of girls 6-12 years old are worried about their body shape or weight. 80% of girls have been on a diet by the 4th grade. Of elementary school-aged kids, 69% of those who read magazines say they have influenced their body image, and 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight.
It is unclear why more young children are being diagnosed with eating disorders now. It is possible that diagnostic techniques have improved over the years as well as clinicians being better educated on the signs and symptoms, but there are studies that are looking into this concerning trend. Young children may have always struggled with eating disorders but they may have gone undiagnosed until they were older.
It can be complicated for parents to try and distinguish an eating disorder from more common food behaviors in young children such as picky eating and fussiness. There are forms of eating disorders such as:
Symptoms to watch out for:
What Can Parents Do
Facts About Eating Disorders:
- Between 3 and 5 percent of all adolescent females have a diagnosable eating disorder.
- Anorexia is much more common among females, however, males account for between 4 and 10 percent of adolescents diagnosed with eating disorders.
- According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of all mental disorders, killing as may as 6 percent of those affected.
- Many adolescents with eating disorders also have obsessive-compulsive disorder .
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Children’s Hospitals Saw Rise In Eating Disorder Cases During Pandemic
During the pandemic, 15 children’s hospitals reported that admissions for eating disorders doubled, on average. A Michigan teen shares her story about getting diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Since the pandemic began, children’s hospitals have seen a surge in admissions for eating disorders. And many parents feel desperate, knowing their child is sick but unable to access treatment because of a chronic shortage of therapists and programs that can help them. Kate Wells at Michigan Radio has this story of one family’s struggle. And a note to our listeners – this story discusses eating disorders in detail.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Amelia Haywood is a little bit nervous to talk about this, but she really wants to. She sits next to her mom in their home in suburban Grand Rapids, Mich. Her long, brown hair hangs loose over a red athletic jacket.
AMELIA HAYWOOD: Yeah. So my name is Amelia. I’m 15 years old. I play volleyball. And about six months ago, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
KATE WELLS, BYLINE: This disease has sent her to the emergency room four times. And she has been admitted to three different hospitals. It began in March of 2020 when the lockdown started. Suddenly, a girl who had been this athletic, high-achieving eighth-grader just felt lost.
HAYWOOD: People are dying. Everyone’s getting sick. You can’t see your friends. It was hard because I felt like I didn’t have any control over anything except what I ate and how I exercised.
Is Social Media Increasing Eating Disorders In Teens
Skinny man taking a selfie with his phone while training his bicep muscle. Beautiful teenager … lifting a dumbbell and taking a photo.Anorexic young man training to become stronger
Teens who spend more time on social media could be far more likely to developing eating disorders. According to new research teens who spend just 30 minutes a day could have increased feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness and notably poor self-image, the latter of which could lead to unhealthy eating behaviors.
Researchers in Australia, lead by Dr. Simon M. Wilksch of Flinders University, looked at the effect that social media had on body image, and the results of the study were published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. It found that eating disorders “were reported by 51.7% of girls and 45.0% of boys, with strict exercise and meal skipping the most common. A total of 75.4% of girls and 69.9% of boys had at least one SM account where Instagram was the most common, used by 68.1% of girls and 61.7% of boys.”
The research found that it wasn’t one particular form of social media that could be leading to the eating disorders either. Girls in the study, who may be prone to eating disorders, were more likely to use SnapChat and Tumblr, while boys also used Snapchat, but were more active on Facebook and Instagram.
However, social media can have a serious negative impact as well when people too often compare their appearance with others.
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