Eating Disorders & Children

by on October 12th, 2011 at 7:00 am

While obesity statistics are on the rise for children, so is another disturbing trend: eating disorders. Studies from the Eating Disorder Foundation found that nearly half of 10-year-old girls in the United States are dieting, have a strong fear of “becoming fat”, or are engaging in binge eating. For some, these behaviors worsen into their teen years, as 27% of the girls display serious eating disorder symptoms.

A key warning sign is self-induced vomiting, which is the gateway to developing serious psychological problems that often coexist with eating disorders, according to researchers.

Dangers of eating disorders

Besides putting the body at risk for malnutrition, many times, eating disorders seriously damage vital systems of the body, such as the heart and kidneys.  Some of the many consequences of eating disorders include:

  • Loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Brittle and thinning hair
  • Sensitivity or intolerance to cold temperatures
  • Cardiovascular problems, and in extreme cases, heart failure
  • Electrolyte imbalances: low potassium, sodium and magnesium
  • Kidney stones or kidney failure
  • Changes in brain chemistry, often resulting in depression
  • Lowered immune system function
  • Constipation and bloating
  • Headaches

Help for those high-risk for developing an eating disorder

  • Experts recommend helping a young child learn to eat a balanced nutritious diet, and emphasizing how critical food is for health and growth. Consulting with a nutritionist can also help to restore healthy eating patterns and food behavior.
  • Encouraging children to be active and participate in regular exercise will help alleviate concerns regarding weight gain.
  • Seeking professional psychotherapy/counseling is also recommended, particularly for children who seem unresponsive to parental intervention.
  • Natural herbal and homeopathic remedies can be combined with other treatments to help address any underlying depression and reduce anxiety during the healing process, including Passiflora incarnata, St. John’s wort, Lemon balm, and Lavender.

 

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