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Teens & Eating Disorders

teen-eating-disordersAlarming Majority of Teen Girls Are at Risk

Body image is one of the most important self-esteem issues facing teen girls. Teenagers eating disorders statistics are alarming. Almost 1 out of every 2 young girls (1st to 3rd grades) is thinking about their weight. By the age of 10, over 80% of them are afraid of being fat. In fact many young girls start demonstrating signs of an eating disorder by the time they are 13. Eating disorders are frequently overlooked because parents don't understand the signs and young teens can hide it well.

Fear of Food:  A Female Epidemic

Anorexia Nervosa - Although anorexia means appetite loss, it is misleading. Teens that develop this disorder are hungry but they won't eat. This can lead to hair loss, brittle fingernails, an inability to concentrate, lightheadedness, swollen joints, and loss of periods (if they had started before the teen developed anorexia). While these signs are noticeable, it is hard to see when your teen doesn't want you to see them.

It is hard to say who will develop anorexia and who won't, researches can't even figure out why teens develop it. They have decided that teens who develop anorexia tend to perform well in school and are active in sports. Even though they appear to be on top of the world on the inside they feel inadequate, lonely, or angry. Anorexia develops out of their need to be in control of something in the lives.

Bulimia Nervosa - Bulimia occurs when a person eats a lot of food at once and then purposely regurgitate it to avoid absorbtion of calories. In the past teens used vomiting to remove the food but now it is easy for them to obtain laxatives to do this. Teens also have used diuretics (which only remove excess water) or enemas to remove the food quickly from their bodies.

Some of the symptoms and signs of bulimia depend on the method being used to remove food from their bodies. If they are throwing up they will have frequent sore throats, teeth problems, swollen face or neck glands, and frequently suffer from heartburn. The longer the bulimia goes on the more serious the consequences.  Young women may lose their period, have bloodshot eyes, be weak and exhausted, and have frequent stomach cramps. Teens with bulimia tend to get some nutrients from their food before they get rid of it but if it goes on too long, they can start to develop symptoms even if they are not purging all the time.

Researchers haven't been able to determine why students develop bulimia instead of anorexia. Sometimes it is concurrent with emotional, physical, or sexual abuse and sometimes it develops because of peer pressure from other teens at school.

Other risk factors include a teen's desire to look like their teen idol or like a model. If either disorder goes on treated for a long period of time it can result in permanent heart damage. If a teen never gets treatment, it can result in death.

Teenagers eating disorders statistics are not just talking about teenage girls. Teenage boys can also develop eating disorders. The FDA estimates that up to 10 percent of eating disorders develop in teenage boys. There aren't any teenagers eating disorders statistics that breakdown the numbers by race but the FDA says that the majority of teens diagnosed with an eating disorder are white. This doesn't mean that your teen can't develop an eating disorder; statistics can only be compiled on people who get diagnosed with the disorders. They don't cover the thousands of teens that deal with weight issues but either don't develop a disorder or don't ever get diagnosed.

The alarming teenagers eating disorders statistics have resulted in eating disorders being treated as a serious problem. Even many insurance companies cover treatment for eating disorders now. There are many places online and locally that a parent or teen can find help. Your doctor is the best place to start because they can look for organ damage that was caused by the disorder as well as recommend a nutritionist and counselor.

There are agencies that deal with holistic healing approaches such as Radar Programs, Casa Palmera, Harmony Grove, Canopy Cove, or Remuda Ranch to name a few. Some states and cities have specific prevention orientated programs like Arizona's Blueprint for Womanhood Program and San Francisco's Association of Professionals Treating Eating Disorders. Your doctor or insurance company should be able to tell you what programs are in your area to help heal teens with eating disorders.

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