by Elizabeth Easton, PsyD for GalTime.com
Previously, it was believed that eating disorders were "a teenage girl's" disease. However, this is no longer the case. More men and boys, as well as younger and younger children, are seeking treatment for eating disorders and concerns.
About 35-37% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting or take diet pills or laxatives, reports the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Even more frightening is the fact that 42% of first- through third-grade girls say that they want to be thinner. That's right, while learning multiplication tables and tallying money, kids are now consumed with counting calories.
These facts are shocking, and still, many people -- and parents -- are unaware of how prevalent and serious eating disorders are for young children, tweens and teenagers. Parents have a crucial role in educating themselves about eating disorders and body image issues and identifying possible warning signs, which could indicate the presence of an eating disorder in their child or adolescent.
Here are some of the most common warning signs that a child or teen potentially has an eating disorder.
As a parent, if you become concerned about your child's eating behaviors or extreme focus on body image, it is important to address the issue early on. Intervene sooner rather than later, and help your child seek treatment and experience lasting recovery if you and your doctors deem it appropriate. If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, your immediate focus should be his or her health, opening lines of communication and initiating a conversation.
Here is how you can start.
If your child does develop an eating disorder, try not to shoulder the blame yourself. Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses stemming from a variety of contributing factors; they are not any one person's -- or parent's -- fault. Being able to recognize the warning signs and being an active part of eating disorders treatment will help provide an environment conducive to the recovery process.
More from GalTime.com:
Follow GalTime on Twitter: www.twitter.com/galtime