“Eating disorders are a psychiatric condition, and there are different types,” said Eleni Lantzouni, MD, an adolescent medicine specialist at Akron Children’s Hospital. “Patients with anorexia are very underweight, 15 percent below what they should be. They have intense fear of gaining weight, and they have a distorted body image.”
People with bulimia, on the other hand, have recurring episodes of binging, or eating a large amount of food in a short period of time. “The binging is followed by a compensatory behavior, which can be self-induced vomiting, excessive exercising or restricting food for a long period of time,” Dr. Lantzouni said.
In conjunction with Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 24 – March 4, 2013, Dr. Lantzouni encourages parents and friends to look for the signs that someone may be struggling with one of these conditions.
“If your kid persists on a diet and the diet becomes stricter and stricter, that’s a sign,” she said. “If they exercise excessively, if they avoid family meals, if they don’t want to go out to eat with friends, if they make constant remarks about their body and how dissatisfied they are, if you notice that their mood is decreasing and they are getting more depressed despite the fact that they are losing weight, that is another warning sign.”
In the following video, Dr. Lantzouni also discusses the factors that contribute to eating disorders, as well as what families can do to support a child facing this condition.