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Eating Disorders in Teenage Children



Since the adolescence is the age where bones are sprout and grow rapidly, well nourished foods must be given to the adolescent to facilitate normal growth & development. The nutritional intake must be monitored regularly and modified depending upon the growing needs. Teenagers tend to develop eating disorders which affect their nutritional health. The eating behavior must be corrected as early as possible as it can lead to the development of complex illnesses. Eating disorder is the third common chronic illness, especially in adolescent females and the number has been increasing rapidly from the past thirty years.

There are two subcategories of eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Teenagers love their cellphones and friends> Anorexia nervosa is the restrictive form, where the intake of food is limited severely. In bulimia nervosa is the eating disorder where the adolescent binges on food and then tries to minimize the effects by forcibly vomiting, fasting, and catharsis or over exercising. When handling adolescence eating disorders, they must be handled differently from adult eating disorders. Adolescents face problems such as growth retardation, suppressed height, abnormal weight, pubertal delay, menstrual periods absence, and menses unpredictability. When the adolescent is growing there will be critical tissue components loss like loss of body fat, muscle mass and bone mineral.

Nutritional imbalance is also caused which reflect abnormalities in the levels of vitamins, mineral and other trace elements. The problem is that these abnormalities cannot be recognized clinically. But since protein and calories are essential to the growth of the adolescent, it is important to trace their abnormalities. Because of the problems, healthy adulthood is not a possible thing. Because of all these reasons, it is important to diagnose adolescence eating disorders as early as possible. Eating disorders give rise to peak bone mass impaired acquisition in case of adolescents. When they turn into adults, this problem aggravates to osteoporosis. Even internal organs get affected due to eating disorders. All this can be prevented by early intervention so as to limit, prevent and ameliorate medical complications, which can turn become life threatening.

Adolescents who practice unhealthy weight control practices and are obsessive about figure, weight, food or exercise should be treated clinically. Not only should the symptoms be checked, but their duration, intensity and frequency should also be checked. Although most of the physical complications caused due to eating disorders get solved with the help of nutritional rehabilitation some of the conditions become irreversible and the long term consequences of this are very dangerous. It is best if the eating disorders are recognized in the early stages as it won’t result in irreparable damage. The medical monitoring should be pursued until the teenage children return back to appropriate psychological and medical health.



Eating disorders not only result in physical abnormalities, but also psychological abnormalities. Adolescents with eating disorders take onto social isolation, low self esteem, affective disorders, low self concept, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. Usually adolescents switch to unhealthy eating habits because of depression and lack of knowledge about affective techniques to lose weight. So the patients who are being treated for eating disorders must also be treated for psychiatric illness, if they have any. Even if the habits doesn’t fit the strict criteria, adolescents who limit food intake, binge, vomit or purge accompanied with or without harsh weight loss, should be monitored because of the involvement of risk of even death. Early treatment will have an improved outcome. But the level of intervention in adolescents should be less when compared to adults.

Obesity in Teenage Children

Obesity and overweight are the second most major reasons of preventable deaths in America. Stagnant lifestyle and junk food is to be blamed for more than three hundred thousand deaths per annum. The sad thing is that this problem is on the rise. Obesity is a chronic disease which poses serious health risk to the health of an individual. Also, obesity is the easiest recognizable medical problem, but is very difficult to deal with.

People usually confuse obesity with overweight. Overweight is gaining of a few extra pounds. A person is considered obese when the total body weight is minimum ten percent more than the recommended weight for his/her body structure and height. According to an estimate every year hundred billion dollars are spent on the obesity problem. It is very important to treat the problem as early as possible. Obese children between the age of ten and thirteen have eighty percent chances of growing into obese adults, unless they change their ways and adopt a healthier lifestyle. The obesity problem starts from the age of five and continue till adolescence.

Obesity can be caused due to complex reasons including biological, genetic, cultural and behavioral factors. Usually a person gets obese when he/she consumes more calories than the body burns. Also there are fifty percent chances of becoming obese when both one of the parent is obese and when obesity has affected both the parents, the chances increases to eighty percent. One percent of obese people can have that fat because of health reasons, as obesity can be caused due to few medical disorders. The causes of obesity in adolescence are overeating, family history, bad eating habits, little or no exercise, medical illness, low self esteem, medications, depression, emotional problems, stressful life, and family problem.

Obesity can cause many major problems. Some of them are diabetes, sleeping disorders, high blood pressure, breathing problems, emotional problems and increase in heart disease risk. Teenagers are more prone to get emotional problems. Because of the weight, they develop low self esteem. They get into depression, obsessive compulsion disorder and anxiety.

Adolescents who want to tackle the obesity problem should approach a pediatrician who will thoroughly evaluate the cause. If no physical disorder is to be blamed, the weight is reduced by limiting the calorie intake and increasing physical activity. The doctor can advice a weight management program and change the eating habits of the teenager, slowly. The patient must avoid oily, fatty, fast and junk food. The potions must be reduced in order to decrease the calorie intake. If the adolescent has developed emotional problems because of obesity, an adolescent psychiatrist can collaborate with the pediatrician in order to make a comprehensive plan for treatment. The plan includes reasonable goals, behavior modification, family participation, and management of physical activity.



Self motivation is extremely necessary in loosing weight. Because obesity is more a family problem and not an individual problem, the whole family can switch to eating healthy food and exercising regularly. This can make the weight control program a success. Parents can play a major role by boosting the self esteem of their young children (who soon will become teenage children) by concentrating on their strengths and encouraging them, instead of targeting the weight problem. The whole family should eat meals together, instead of eating individually while watching a movie. This helps all the members to focus on the food and the quantity being eaten. If the teenager isn’t getting support from his family members, he/she can join support groups which can help towards the goals.

After the adolescent has lost weight, it is very important that he/she maintains it. In majority of the cases, people shift back to their old eating habits after loosing weight. That is the reason why obesity is more of a lifetime issue. So the main aim of any weight loss program must be make the adolescent like healthy food. He/she must also be made to exercise regularly, irrespective of the weight.