A report to be published in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics will highlight an alarming new trend among American youth, namely, that teenagers who suffer from obesity are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders. According to the results of the study, physicians are failing to diagnose eating disorders in formerly obese children and adolescents, perhaps because they are happy with the children’s weight loss.
One unpublished study cited in the forthcoming report found that half of all teens with eating disorders were formerly obese. The study also found that these teens’ eating disorders remained undiagnosed much longer than those of adolescents who did not have a history of obesity.
The lead author of the report in Pediatrics, Leslie A. Sim, theorized that the doctors who are failing to diagnose eating disorders in their formerly obese, adolescent patients may be “so distracted by their charge to prevent obesity that they think any kind of weight loss is good.” Dr. Sim is the clinical director of the eating disorders program at Mayo Clinic.
Physicians are too likely to praise formerly obese children and teens for losing weight, without investigating the methods kids are using to shed extra pounds, or what unhealthy attitudes they may be developing about food and eating, Dr. Sim said. She also pointed out that many of the weight control tips doctors give their obese adolescent patients – like cutting out certain types of foods, using extreme portion control, and eating only at certain times of day – lead to disordered eating.
The report clearly underlines the need for health care providers to make a connection between childhood obesity and adolescent eating disorders. The earlier a teen is diagnosed with disordered eating, the better his or her chances of a full recovery. Eating disorders are the deadliest of mental illnesses, killing as many as ten percent within the first ten years and 20 percent within 20 years.
If you suspect that your teen has developed an eating disorder, don’t wait to get help. Call us now at 1-888-415-0708 to find out how we can help restore your child to health.