Eating Disorders: More Common Than You Think

Forty to sixty percent of elementary-aged girls are concerned about their weight—let that sink in for a minute. Our daughters (and sons) are learning to hate their bodies at a younger age than you may think. Another whopping statistic? 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. It’s more important than ever to teach your kids about self-love and healthy habits from an early age

Eating disorders don’t have any single underlying cause, but various social and behavioral factors can contribute to the onset, like getting pressure from friends and peers or watching a family member struggle with an eating disorder.

Socially speaking, bullying and social media can play big role in your child’s opinion of themselves. If you hear them talking badly about their appearance or weight don’t be afraid to start a conversation and intervene. Your pediatric provider can also be a trusted resource if you suspect self-esteem and eating issues.

There are different types of eating disorders, but the most common are as follows:


Anorexia includes starving the body and controlling the amount of calories consumed.

Signs include:

  • Body dysmorphia (feeling a different size than reality)
  • Developing rituals around eating
  • Compulsive exercising
  • Hiding or disposing of food
  • Irritability
  • Severe weight loss


Bulimia involves a cycle of binging and purging, that often includes episodes of overeating followed by vomiting or taking laxatives before the body can absorb nutrients/calories.

Signs include:

  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after eating
  • Frequently clogged showers and toilets
  • Eating excessively, but no change in weight
  • Use of laxatives and diuretics
  • Excessive exercising
  • Severe weight loss

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder can be characterized by dealing with one’s depression or anxiety through the form of overeating.

Signs include:

  • Eating abnormally fast
  • Eating in secret
  • Hiding food/wrappers
  • Easily stressed
  • Feeling out of control of how much they’re eating
  • Excessive weight gain

Now that you know the signs, keep a watchful eye on your child in case he or she is showing signs of an eating disorder. Help exists and it’s best to correct this behavior sooner than later before it leads to serious health complications such as heart problems or damage to the esophagus.

Talk to your pediatric provider if you suspect your child has an eating disorder or if you have questions about your child’s overall nutrition.