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Author Topic: Eating Disorders In Childhood And Adolescence  (Read 3084 times)

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Eating Disorders In Childhood And Adolescence
« on: September 01, 2016, 02:23:51 PM »
by Addiction.com Staff on September 18, 2014 in Addiction Research, Food Addiction

Eating disorders are serious problems with severe health complications, many times requiring hospitalization.

A study found that the same eating disorders that occur in childhood or adolescence don’t always look the same. Doctors attempting to diagnose young children with eating disorders based on adolescent signs could miss the disorder, with their patients possibly spending years doing tremendous physical and emotional harm to themselves.

Researchers set out to study possible differences between eating disorder symptoms at various stages of development, and published the results in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Using information they obtained from the Helping Out Pediatric Eating Disorder Project, the researchers were able to look at substantial data on a significant number of children and adolescents. The Project, started in 1996, is an ongoing registry of patients with eating disorders. The investigators collected data on 656 subjects, 552 of whom were 13-17, and 104 who were younger than 13. All of the young people met the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.

Differences between children and teens’ eating disorders

Of the 104 youngsters, 56.7% had an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Another 41.3% had anorexia and 1.9% had bulimia.

Of the 552 teens, 51.6% had EDNOS, 38% had anorexia and 10.3% had bulimia.

Bulimia and its accompanying behaviors such as binging and purging were more prevalent among the adolescent group than the younger sample group. Not only were children less likely to binge or purge, they were also less likely than adolescents to use exercise in order to manage weight or body shape. On the other hand, young boys were more likely than older boys to have an eating disorder.

The two groups did show some crossover. Both younger children and adolescents had similar body mass index scores, a common tool for assessing an eating disorder. The two groups also demonstrated similar losses in percentage of body weight, although the younger group was able to drop weight more quickly than the adolescent group.

Malnutrition problems from eating disorders

Both groups showed a similar vulnerability to problems stemming from malnutrition, a common problem for those who restrict their food intake, including:

Hypotension — blood pressure so low that key organs (e.g. the brain and heart) do not receive sufficient blood flow
Bradycardia — dangerously slow heartbeat, were problems faced equally by both groups
Multiple organ failure
Because the disorders do not necessarily look the same in childhood as they do in adolescence, the researchers suggest physicians become more aware of what eating disorders look like at various stages of development.

 

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