Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Teens and Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating

Eating disorders are a serious problem. They have severe health consequences and can be deadly if they go untreated. There are different types, each with their own set of symptoms, signs and causes. The most common are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.


Teens with anorexia feel that they are fat, even if they are dangerously underweight. Those who suffer from this condition will restrict their diet, existing on as few calories as possible.

Some of the signs include obsessive calorie counting, weight loss, dry and dull hair, and dry skin. Teens will often try to hide the disorder, claiming that they have already eaten elsewhere or bringing up other excuses. They may also wear loose and baggy clothing to hide the weight loss.

The exact cause is unknown. Some experts believe it is a combination of psychological, environmental, and biological factors. Other personality disorders can also worsen anorexia.


Like with anorexia, teens with bulimia also have self image problems. Bulimic teens will eat excessive amounts of food and then force themselves to purge. This can be done through vomiting, extreme exercise, laxatives, or enemas. Unlike with anorexia, bulimics are often of normal weight or may even be overweight.

One of the most apparent symptoms is eating large amounts of food, much of it unhealthy. A teen may quickly excuse himself or herself after eating in order to purge. Empty food wrappers, hidden or missing food, tooth decay, and a tendency to base their self-esteem on their weight are also signs of a problem.

Again, the exact cause is unknown. Most experts feel it is a combination of social pressures, personality traits and genetics.

Binge Eating

Teens who binge eat have out of control eating patterns, but they will not purge. They will frequently eat an excessive and unusual amount of food. This is usually done in secret, since teens will feel embarrassed or guilty about their eating.   

Symptoms include frequent solitary overeating, eating despite being full, eating rapidly and consuming food when feeling anxious, depressed or isolated. Teens with a binge eating problem will also attempt to diet, but do not have very good results.

The specific causes vary from teen to teen. Experts believe psychological issues, social pressure to diet, and learned behavior can all contribute to the condition. Eating disorders are hard to treat, and can be deadly. Get your teen the help he or she needs today.

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