The Covid-19 pandemic associated with increasing mental health in adolescence, including the number of patients eating disorders
In fact, research indicates that the number of adolescents with eating disorders has at least doubled during the pandemic.
This is specifically about what d eating disorders Among all mental health diagnoses, they are the most devastating, and adolescents with eating disorders are at greater risk of death than the general population.
While experts don’t know exactly why eating disorders are on the rise, studies show that body dissatisfaction and desire for weight loss are key contributors.
This can make conversations about weight and healthy behaviors, particularly with adolescents and young adults, tricky.
As a young medical doctor specializing in eating disorders, I saw first-hand the increase in patients with eating disorders, as well as the detrimental effects of eating disorder stereotypes. I always work with families to help adolescents develop positive relationships with body image, eating and exercise.
Understanding the possible symptoms of an eating disorder is important, so studies recommend timely diagnosis and treatment for better long-term outcomes and better chances of full recovery.
Eating disorders defined
They include eating disorders that often begin at a young age anorexia nervosabulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, other specific food and avoidant eating disorders, and restrictive food intake disorder.
Each eating disorder has specific criteria that must be met to receive a diagnosis, which is done by an eating disorder professional.
Research suggests that up to 10 percent of people develop an eating disorder in their lifetime.
Medical complications from eating disorders, such as low heart rate and electrolyte abnormalities, can be dangerous and result in hospitalization, and malnutrition can affect growth and development.
Many of the patients I see in the clinic have stopped puberty and stunted growth, which can affect oral health, adult height and other health issues if not addressed quickly.
Puberty is also at risk due to disordered eating behaviors such as voluntary vomiting, caloric restriction, binge eating, excessive exercise, use of weight loss supplements and laxative abuse.
A recent study estimated that 1 in 5 adolescents would struggle with disordered eating behaviors. While these behaviors alone may not qualify as an eating disorder, they may predict later development of eating disorders.
Treatment methods for eating disorders are varied and depend on several factors, including medical stability, family priorities and needs, local resources and insurance coverage.
Treatment may include a team consisting of a medical provider, nutritionist and therapist, or involve the use of a specialized eating disorder program. A referral to one of these treatment methods may come from a pediatric or eating disorder specialist provider.
Misconceptions and stereotypes Traditional ideas and stereotypes about eating disorders have left many with the impression that it is mainly thin, white, affluent women who develop eating disorders.
However, research shows that anyone can develop these conditions, regardless of age, gender, body size, gender identity, sexuality, or economic status.
Unfortunately, stereotypes and assumptions about eating disorders have contributed to health disparities in screening, diagnosis and treatment.
Studies document negative eating disorder treatment experiences among transgender and gender-diverse individuals, Black and Indigenous people, and those who are larger in body size.
Some contributors to these negative experiences include a lack of diversity and training among some treatments, treatment plans without cultural or economic nutritional considerations and differential treatment when the patient is not visibly underweight, among others.
Contrary to popular assumptions, studies of teenage boys show that they are also at risk for eating disorders. These are often hidden and can become more muscular with simulated desire. But eating disorders are just as dangerous for boys as they are for girls.
Parents and loved ones can play a role by helping to dispel these stereotypes, advocating for their child at the pediatrician’s office if concerns arise, and recognizing red flags for eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors.
Given how common eating disorders and disordered eating are among adolescents, it is important to know some of the possible signs of these problematic behaviors and what to do about them.
Problematic behaviors may include eating alone or in secret and hyperfocusing on “healthy” foods and distress when those foods are not available. Other warning signs are significantly reduced portion sizes, skipping meals, fighting for time to eat, and using the bathroom immediately after eating. weight loss
Because these behaviors often feel secretive and shameful, it can be easy to bring them up as teenagers.
Taking a warm but direct approach with your teen can help calm them down, as long as they know you’ve noticed their behavior and are there to nurture them without judgment or blame. I always make sure that my patients know that my job is on the team, rather than telling them what to do.
Adolescents do not immediately open up about their concerns, but if such behaviors are present, they do not hesitate to have them in the pediatrician’s office.
Following up on patients who have shown signs of an eating disorder and immediately referring them to specialists who can further evaluate the patient is crucial to getting adolescents the help they need.
Family resources can be helpful in navigating the fear and uncertainty that can come along with a diagnosis of anxiety disorder.
Focus on health, not size Research shows that poor body image and body dissatisfaction can put adolescents at risk for eating disorders and eating disorders.
Parents play an important role in adolescent development. own possessionsand research shows that negative comments from parents about weight, body size, and eating are associated with thought-disorders in adolescence.
So when talking to adolescents, it can be beneficial to take a weight-average approach that focuses more on overall health than weight or size. Unfortunately, I have had many patients with eating disorders who have been scolded or harassed by family members about their weight; this can be really harmful to discover.
A good idea is to incorporate lots of variety into your teen’s diet. If possible, trying out new foods for a family like yours can encourage your teen to try something they haven’t had before.
Try to avoid words like “junk” or “liability” when discussing food. Teaching your teen to recognize the many types of foods in his diet allows him to develop a healthy, knowledgeable relationship with food. If you feel confused, you may want to ask your pediatrician about seeing a dietitian.
It is important to remember that adolescents need a lot of nutrition to support growth and development, often more than adults do, and that regular feeding helps to avoid excessive hunger that can lead to food overload.
Helping teens listen to their bodies and learn their hunger and fullness cues will help them eat healthily and develop long-term healthy habits.
In my experience, puberty is more likely exercise consequently when they find an activity they enjoy.
Exercise does not have to be lifting weights gym; Adolescents can move their bodies by walking in nature, moving to music in their living room, or playing pickup, basketball, or soccer with a friend or sibling.
Focusing on the positive things exercise can do to the body, such as improvements in mind and energy, can help to avoid feeling compulsive or forced.
When teens are able to find exercise that they enjoy, it can help their body do the best it can for everyone.