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10-13 Risk factors that can help identify binge eating disorder in teens

Posted in eating disorders

Risk factors that can help identify binge eating disorder in teens

Erratic eating habit and unusual patterns in consumption behaviors signal potential eating disorders. Fixation with food and body shape may also indicate problems akin to eating disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), eating disorders are often fatal ailments that cause severe disturbances to an individual’s consumption patterns. Common eating disorders are binge eating disorder (BED), anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

The most prevalent eating disorder among Americans has been identified as BED. It is characterized by loss of controlled eating habits coupled with the inability to control the nature and extent of the food consumed. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) reports that 2.8 percent of American adults are affected with symptoms of this disorder in their lives.

Eating disorders can affect people of all ages and genders. According to the NIMH, an estimated 2.7 percent of adolescents aged 13 to 18 years suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. The NIMH data also shows that girls are more vulnerable to eating disorders than boys. While the inability to control binge eating habits signals a possibility of serious BED, parents and guardians can take cues from indicators that would help identify the problem in their wards/loved ones. The common indicators are:

  • Genetic patterns: Mental health problems like an eating disorder may be hereditary. Studies have indicated that children are 50 percent at a greater likelihood of being affected by eating disorder habits if they have some close family member exhibiting symptoms of the illness.
  • Excessive craving for food: Eating disorder patients have an insatiable desire to eat or are too obsessed with food. A major impact of recurring overeating is tendency to eat high-calorie food. Binge eaters find it arduous to control the vicious cycle of having a large quantity of food, and then feeling horrible and guilty about it.
  • Impulsive behavior: The inability to respond to the stimuli like food items often results in ineptitude to resist eating tendencies. Impulsive traits are mostly temperamental and may result in increased vulnerability for control of loss. Overeating tendencies are mostly the result of reactive urges as opposed to decision making habits of a thoughtful mind.
  • Feeling of insecurity about relationships: Children with uncontrollable eating habits usually feel insecure pertaining to their relationship with friends and families. In addition, earlier experiences of teasing and bullying, especially about body weight and shape, may provoke lack of control in eating habits.
  • Misconception about body shape and weight: Some adolescents and teenagers are too obsessed with their body weight and shape. This may have a tremendous effect on feelings of self-worth, contributing to psychological problems like eating disorder habits. Concerns about body weight and feeling of preoccupation with a cadaverous body structure may influence partial or full-time eating disorder problems among adolescents.
  • Urge to escape: There is a sudden urge to escape from situations reflecting self-awareness. BED patients tend to soothe themselves by moving away from experiences that make them aware of their flaws and shortcomings. In addition, such people also tend to manifest more signs of depressive disorder coupled with anxiousness and reduced self-esteem. They then eat more palatable foods to soothe their mood fluctuations.

Treating eating disorders in teens

Some parents and caregivers tend to misconstrue binge eating habit among adolescents and teenagers as a matter of lifestyle choice or associate it with weakness of character. It is necessary to educate people about how this disorder needs to be treated like any other psychological condition. If left untreated, it can lead to other complications.

Eating disorders in adolescents can be treated with timely intervention. Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego understands the plight of an adolescent with BED and provides evidence-based teen eating disorder treatment. Parents and guardians should be watchful of the eating habits of their children. If your teen is showing symptoms of eating disorders, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know more about our residential programs for troubled teens.

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