Anorexia in children

Anorexia in children

Anorexia is a common and extremely serious eating disorder characterized mainly by starvation, weight loss, body image distortion and an intense fear of weight gain. This is also known as anorexia nervosa.

Girls are more prone to this disorder than boys, and the period when the risk is highest is in adolescence and as a young adult. However, even younger children are not excluded from the statistics on the manifestation of this disease

What are the causes of anorexia?

The causes of this eating disorder are not known. It often starts with innocent dietary behavior on the part of the child and gradually progresses to extreme and unhealthy weight loss. However, there are risk factors associated with this condition:

  • social attitudes regarding the physical aspect;

  • family influences;

  • genetic factors;

  • developmental and neurochemical factors.

Adolescents who develop this disorder are most likely to be part of families with a history of various eating disorders or weight problems, physical or mental illness, etc.

Types of anorexia

There are 2 types of anorexia, both common:

  • restrictive (extremely severe, at the limit of starvation);

  • that of purification (bulimia).

What are the symptoms?

These are the most common symptoms of anorexia. However, each child may manifest the disease differently:

  • drastic and rapid weight loss;

  • intense fear that he will get fat, although in reality he is constantly weakening;

  • distorted image of its shape, body size and weight; he always looks too fat, always says he feels fat, etc .;

  • in girls it is manifested by the absence of 3 consecutive menstruation, without other causes that would cause this;

  • excessive physical activity;

  • deny feelings of starvation;

  • concerned with the preparation of his own food;

  • Weird eating behaviors.

Due to starvation and poor nutrition, other associated symptoms may occur:

  • dry skin when you pinch it and release it;

  • dehydration;

  • abdominal pain;

  • constipation;

  • lethargy;

  • fatigue;

  • hypothermia;

  • emaciation;

  • yellowing of the skin.

How is anorexia nervosa treated in children?

Both parents and teachers, coaches and other people with whom the child comes into contact should carefully monitor their behavior and follow the signals. If you notice strange manifestations of the child regarding eating behavior, a psychotherapist is best suited to diagnose anorexia, where appropriate.

The treatment of anorexia is customized for each case and is based mainly on:

  • child's age, general health status and medical history;

  • severity of symptoms;

  • tolerance to certain drugs, procedures and therapies, etc.

Anorexia is usually treated using a combination of:

  • individual therapy (cognitive and behavioral techniques);

  • family therapy;

  • nutritional rehabilitation (with the help of doctors and nutritionists);

  • medication.

How can you prevent anorexia in your child?

Prophylactic measures to reduce the incidence of anorexia among children are not very clearly defined. However, encouraging healthy eating habits and realistic attitudes about weight and diet might be helpful.

Tags Anorexia nervosa children Eating disorders children