Recognizing eating disorders in time to help

Image courtesy of .S/Visualhunt

Eating disorders shouldn’t be taken lightly especially in adolescents and young adults. When go unnoticed for long periods of time, they can be fatal due to medical complications or even suicide.

About 3 percent of all teenagers have eating disorders, according to the Family Institute at Northwestern University. It’s more commonly seen in girls but boys as well. Those who have to maintain certain weight limits or ultra slim bodies are usually at higher risk (gymnasts, dancers, models or wrestlers).

It’s common for females to present with one or more gynecological symptoms. These symptoms typically resolve on their own when normal eating habits are restored. Unfortunately, certain problems related to eating disorders can have more serious irreversible effects.

An example of this is a life-long risk of bone fractures due to insufficient development of bone density during this crucial time for bone growth.

To prevent this and many other possible issues, it’s important to recognize teenagers with such disorders and ensure things don’t get worse. One way is to have gynecologists screen patients at risk for food related problems and to refer them for further evaluation if needed.

Parents should also be looking for signs that would require their children to receive therapy.

Some of the main signs include significant weight changes, repeated extended trips to the bathroom, excessive exercise and avoiding activities that involve food like family meals.

If any of these signs are accompanied with symptoms like reduced energy, isolation, irritability, and social withdrawal, immediate help should be contacted.

For additional information, please visit The New York Times.

Questions: Do you know anyone with the signs or symptoms listed above? How can the society develop a better approach to healthy body image?

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