Eating disorders are prevalent medical and psychological conditions afflicting at least 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States at some point of time in their lives.
Busting Myths Surrounding Eating Disorders in Teens
Eating disorders are prevalent medical and psychological conditions afflicting at least 20
million women and 10 million men in the United States at some point of time in their lives.
These are serious disorders with debilitating effects on interpersonal relationships,
productivity, social engagements, and physical and psychological well-being of a person.
There are five types of eating
disorders – anorexia nervosa,
bulimia nervosa, binge eating
disorder, avoidant restrictive
food intake disorder (ARFID) and
other specified feeding or eating
disorder (OSFED). Of all the
mental illnesses, eating disorders
misconceptions surrounds the
complicates their understanding.
Listed below are some of the common myths surrounding eating disorders and the facts
dispelling those myths:
1.Myth – Eating disorder is a choice. One can be cured when one decides.
Fact–This is a false view as eating disorders do not affect a person by choice. They happen
due to environmental or genetic factors. Environmental factors could be pre-existing
physical disorders, exposure to bullying during growing up years, and various other life
stressors. On the other hand, genetic factors predispose an individual when an illness runs
in the family across generations.
2.Myth – Only very thin people struggle with eating disorders.
Fact–Media glorifies an eating disorder when someone looks frail or hugely wasted.
However, this is not the case always. Just because someone has reached a normal weight
does not mean that he or she could be free from an eating disorder. The illness can affect
a person of any weight.
3.Myth – Eating disorders are only linked with an obsession with food.
Fact–A person grappling with an eating disorder could be obsessed with food, body
image or weight. Additionally, eating disorders are also found to be co-occurring in people
diagnosed with anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Fact–No, binge eating and occasional overeating are two different phenomena. Binge
eating pertains to eating excessively on more than one occasion, at least once a week for
a period of three months. Binge eating disorder afflicts nearly 3.5 percent women and 2
percent men in America. It might start affecting a person’s life gradually, but occasional
overeating may not.
5.Myth – Eating disorders affect females only.
Fact–Eating disorders are gender neutral, affecting both men and women. Unfortunately,
these are generally considered as women problems, which deters men to come forward
and seek help. In a study involving military personnel, nearly 5.5 percent women and 4
percent men were diagnosed with eating disorders at the time of the commencement of
the study. After a couple of years, 3.3 percent more women and 2.6 percent additional
men were reported to have an eating disorder.
Eating disorders in teenagers
Teen years are vulnerable times when children are highly responsive to the changes around
them but have poor decision-making abilities. Many adolescent children want to get into a
perfect body shape and, to do so, they might adopt unhealthy habits. Watching peers
flaunting their figures and celebrities endorsing thin bodies can arouse the desire to imitate
their style, which can go wrong.
It is important to understand that eating disorders are life-threatening but treatable. If left
undiagnosed or untreated, they can lead to a plethora of other problems like cessation of
menstrual cycles in females, lower body weight, bone loss, osteopenia (related to lower bone
density) and painful fractures. Eating disorders are also linked with kidney and cardiovascular
Recovery from eating disorders is possible
As adults, it is our duty to carefully look for the symptoms of eating disorders in teenagers
and check if they are skipping meals, weighing frequently, and experiencing constipation,
frequent nausea, insomnia, dental cavities, dry skin, loss of hair, or low self-confidence. Such
children can also harbor self-harm tendencies and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The earlier
one recognizes the warning signs, the better chances are for proper recovery. Eating
disorders in teens can be treated with timely intervention.
Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego understands that teen eating disorder is a big problem
in the U.S., so we provide evidence-based treatment to overcome it. If your teen is showing
symptoms of an eating disorder, call our 24/7 helpline (866) 512-1981. Our teen eating
disorder treatment centers provide a safe and tranquil environment conducive to the child’s