It’s common for teens to be concerned about how they look and to feel self-conscious about their weight. That goes for girls and boys. During puberty, kids’ bodies change dramatically and they face mounting social pressures, like dating, making friends and fitting in.
But when these concerns become obsessions or begin to involve abnormal behaviors or negative thoughts about body image, weight and food, eating disorders can occur. Someone who starts to do things that are emotionally or physically dangerous in order to lose weight may have an eating problem.
Other signs of an eating disorder include becoming very thin, having a fear of weight gain, playing with or moving food around on the plate instead of eating it, exercising compulsively, loss of menstrual periods, or constantly talking about weight and food. Some people with eating disorders binge eat, and then induce vomiting, use laxatives or use diuretics.
If you’re concerned that your child may have an eating disorder, it’s important to get her the help she may need right away. Let her know that you’re worried because of the things that you have noticed. Disordered eating can be very dangerous and can lead to a variety of health problems. Have your child talk to a counselor, doctor or a mental health professional.
© 2015. Article adapted from The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth®. Used under license.