Better Health Channel
Eating disorders can affect children. More than half of Australian primary school age children want to lose weight. Knowing the risk factors and early warning signs in this age group can help to prevent the development of eating disorders.
Eating disorders are rare in children under the age of eight, even though many children are fussy eaters or have eating issues.
Eating disorders are really about feelings and could signal that a child is having emotional, social or developmental difficulties. Often the eating disorder develops as a way for a child to feel in control about what’s happening in their life.
The main types of eating disorder include:
* Anorexia nervosa – characterised by restricted eating, loss of weight (to an unhealthy level) and a fear of putting on weight.
* Bulimia nervosa – periods of bingeing on high-kilojoule foods (often in secret), followed by attempts to compensate by over exercising, vomiting or periods of strict dieting. The bingeing is accompanied by feelings of shame and being ‘out of control’.
* Binge eating disorder – similar to bulimia but without the compensating behavior such as vomiting or over exercising.
- A range of influences
- Personality factors
- Social or environmental factors
- Boys and girls
- Early warning signs
- How parents and teachers can help