Identifying Children at Risk of Eating Disorders is Key to Saving Lives

According to a six year research study led by Dr. Elizabeth Evans, who is a research associate at the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University, the identification of symptoms of eating disorders in children are crucial as early as the age of nine. The quicker these symptoms are known and treated, the lesser the chances of later life threatening illnesses. The results of this important research were published in the academic journal, Appetite. Dr. Evans stated that this study was done to determine what early factors would be likely to lead to eating disorders-if these can be identified and dealt with, early intervention can be more effective in treating this mental health issue. While symptoms are rare at the age of nine, they are more prevalent at twelve and, by the time they reach the age of fifteen, they are often admitted to a hospital for treatment. One of the key factors that lead to eating disorders in children are dissatisfaction with their bodies, while depression in girls can also contribute. These different factors can lead to things like rigid dieting, binge eating, making themselves sick after eating, and over anxiety about weight. The research was done on younger children but there will be later follow up questions when these children reach the age of fifteen to determine if the factors remain the same or if further information can be gained in order to find other factors that may be in play. This is important research since eating disorders in children are serious and can even be fatal.

Key Points:

  • 1Eating disorder symptoms may be identifiable in children as young as nine years old.
  • 2This six-year study identified three areas that parents, teachers and doctors should be alert to when looking to detect and help youngsters at risk.
  • 3This research will help pave the way for early interventions to help young patients deal with their eating disorder.

Results suggest the need to detect eating disorder symptoms early, since a higher level of symptoms at nine years old was the strongest risk factor for a higher level of symptoms at 12 years old.

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