Is there someone in your life whom you worry might have an eating disorder? Do you know how to recognize symptoms of an eating disorder? While some symptoms are obvious, some are simply exaggerations of healthy behaviors taken too far.
One obvious symptom of an eating disorder is weight loss or weight fluctuation; however, this does not apply to everyone with an eating disorder. Meghan Bennett, Recovery Care Specialist of Selah House, LLC reminds us that “someone struggling with bulimia or ED NOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) may not experience much weight loss, may be over weight due to binging and purging, or not lose weight rapidly or drastically. The stereotype is that someone must be severely underweight or losing rapidly to have an eating disorder is misleading. Nearly half of the clients I work with in an inpatient ED facility have to do little to no weight restoration.”
There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that more than half a million adolescents in the United States could qualify for a diagnosed eating disorder according to research published at Archives of General Psychiatry. The study included structured interviews with more than 10,000 teenagers and their parents. The good news is that more than half a million is just under three percent of adolescents.
It is estimated than 0.3 percent of teens will suffer from anorexia nervosa, 0.9 percent will suffer from bulimia nervosa, and 1.6 percent will suffer from binge-eating disorder. Although many of the kids will experience some mental health treatment, it is generally not eating disorder specific.
While I am glad to read a low percentage of teens experience eating disorders, it is essential that proper treatment is provided to those kids that need it. Eating disorders require special treatment by a trained professional and often a team of professionals. The best treatments with which I am familiar include medical professionals, nutritionists, counselors, psychiatrists, and peer groups. Eating disorders are complicated syndromes that must take into account and treat a variety of factors.
The former child star who captured the hearts of fans as D.J. Tanner on Full House, Candace Cameron Bure was not exempt from the pressures of growing up in the public eye. In her new book, Reshaping It All, Cameron Bure reveals that she suffered from bulimia and discusses her path to recovery.
The actress appears on the cover of next week’s edition of PEOPLE magazine. “It’s a very dangerous cycle that can just start to consume your life and really take over,” she told the magazine. “It wasn’t about me trying to lose weight,” said Cameron Bure. “It was all about emotions.” Her eating disorder peaked after Full House ended its run.
According to a report released November 29, 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, eating disorders are on the rise. The numbers for children under the age of 12, male children, and those of minority descent showed a sharp incline. This report updates a previously filed 2007 report, due to a sharp rise in all areas reported, including number of cases reported and better understanding of the need for medical support.
One reason for the increase in reported cases of eating disorders may be the “increased focus on weight management and dieting related to increased rates of obesity,” the report’s lead author David S. Rosen, MD, said, as well as the rise in emphasis on Body Mass Index. With rising numbers of obesity for children, many feel that children are taking the message to lose weight too far. Dr. Rosen encourages pediatricians to “be mindful not to encourage unhealthy dieting or focus exclusively on weight (risk factors for eating disorders) and instead emphasize healthy eating and physical activity.”
Everywhere we look, we are told we are fat and need to lose weight. For the majority, that constant drone from the TV and magazines goes ignored, but for a growing number, fitting in a workout isn’t just no-big-deal, it’s non-negotiable.
With the emphasis on fitness, calories and weight loss, eating and exercise disorders emerge as many turn from a healthy consciousness of food and exercise turns to an unhealthy obsession. But when is that line crossed? When does making your workouts a priority go from a healthy habit to a dangerous punishment?
Professionals recommend getting 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week, but many are racking up 3-6 hours daily between morning runs, yoga classes and trips to the gym. To those on the outside, their dedication to fitness is awe-inspiring, but to those affected, exercise addiction is a dangerous and unhealthy disorder. (more…)