Eating disorders can affect anyone regardless of age or sex. While most cases affect individuals in their late teens and early twenties, there are a growing number of cases of eating disorders being discovered in children.
Causes of eating disorders in children
The reason the number of cases of eating disorders is increasing in children is because of their eating habits. Many children are drawn to unhealthy foods, such as pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, potato chips, chicken strips and the like. Fast food restaurants tend to target children in their advertising paving the way for children to become obese. As the child becomes obese they are oftentimes picked on by their peers at school and called names. The pressure this places on the child to become more like their thin counterparts leads to eating disorders.
Other causes can be the role models the child idolizes. If these role models are extremely thin, the child may start to feel they are fat, even though they may not be overweight. A child’s body can store fat that is lost once the child hits puberty.
Types of eating disorders in children
The primary types of eating disorders that can affect children are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Some children will start off by developing binge eating and feel a sense of accomplishment if they can eat large portions of food in one sitting. This will lead to becoming obese and once the child has become fat, they then turn to one of the other disorders in order to lose the weight.
Preventing eating disorders in children
Prevention begins with parents taking an active role in their children’s eating habits. Parents should help their children develop proper eating habits and not allow them to eat excessive amounts of food in one sitting. Teaching your children about proper nutrition, portions, and exercise at an early age will help them develop behaviors that are healthy. If your child is obese, restricting their diet is not always the best solution. The child will eat and get food from someplace else. Rather changes to the child’s diet should be gradual and be reinforced with exercise on a regular basis. The use of role models can also help.
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