Boys and eating disorders

Question: My son is 13 1/2 years old. He is always overweight and eats junk food such as McDonald’s or pizza for most of his life. When he began to enter puberty, he grew 4 inches and lost 25 pounds. The problem is that he has become addicted to his weight and continues to lose more and more weight. His maximum weight was 169 pounds, and he has now reduced to 117 pounds. He also completely changed his eating habits. He has become a health freak and has been exercising. I have no problem with that part.

I am worried because he is skinny and seems very happy about losing weight. He said he was not skinny enough. what can I do? All his relatives told him that he is now “too skinny”, including his pediatrician. He only eats healthy food, but it may not be enough. How can I get him to regain some weight? Is 117 pounds too thin?Meryl, Brooklyn, New York

Answer: At his age, 117 pounds is actually just slightly above average. But this does not mean that this is a healthy weight for him. Rather than just looking at your child’s weight, it is more important to understand their body mass index.

Eating disorders are common, and many people think they have reached epidemic levels. It is estimated that approximately 5% of women and 1% of men suffer from eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Since most of these eating disorders begin in adolescence (76% between 11-20 years old and 10% for children under 10), parents and pediatricians should learn how to recognize, prevent, and treat children with eating disorders.

Eating disorders can cause serious and life-threatening medical treatment (malnutrition, dehydration, kidney, heart and liver damage) and psychological problems (depression, poor self-esteem, anxiety), so early recognition is important.

Could your child have an eating disorder?

Is your child underweight?

Children whose BMI is below the 5th percentile of their age are generally considered underweight.

As far as his weight is concerned, his height must be more than 6 feet in order for his BMI to be lower than the 5th percentile, so his weight may be fine.

Is he that tall? Since you said he is so thin, then he is very likely…

It is more important to understand his BMI, which takes into account his height and weight, not just his weight.

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Signs of an eating disorder

You actually mentioned many common signs and symptoms that can cause your son to worry about having or developing an eating disorder, including him:

  • Continue to lose weight, even though he is now “too thin”
  • Obsessed with one’s weight
  • Exercise all the time
  • May not eat enough food and eat enough calories

Although some of the things you mentioned may be normal, especially if he wants to exercise, eat healthy food, and want to be a “health freak”, the fact that he feels that “he is not thin enough” may be considered a big one. problem. warning sign.

Generally speaking, if your child has any of the following typical symptoms, you may suspect that they have an eating disorder, such as:

  • Underweight, weight loss, or abnormal weight gain. Remember that even children who appear to be of normal weight may suffer from eating disorders, depending on the work they do to maintain their weight. Children may even be overweight and suffer from eating disorders.
  • Very afraid of gaining weight or getting fat, especially if your child is underweight
  • Body image is disturbed, which means your child thinks he or she is overweight, even if they are really underweight or normal weight.
  • The episode of gluttony
  • Try to prevent weight gain by self-inducing vomiting, abuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas or other drugs, fasting or excessive exercise.
  • Refusal to eat and continue to diet

Children with more subtle signs may be more difficult to diagnose or detect. These less obvious signs of eating disorders may include:

  • Rupture of blood vessels in the eye
  • The development of eating etiquette
  • Disappears after a meal (possibly vomiting)
  • Severe weight fluctuations
  • Mandatory exercise
  • Excessive facial hair
  • Hair loss
  • Mood swings
  • Don’t want to eat beside others
  • Perfectionist type of personality, or if you are a teenager, succeed in school
  • Refuse to eat certain foods
  • Sensitive to cold
  • Skip eating
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Taking over-the-counter medications or natural weight loss pills
  • Tooth decay
  • Wear loose clothing to cover up weight loss
  • Withdrawal behavior

Eating disorder screening

If you find some early warning signs of your child’s eating disorder, you can ask some screening questions for more information. According to the National Eating Disorder Screening Program, these include:

  • Are you afraid of being overweight?
  • Do you continue to eat, and you think it might not be possible to stop?
  • Will you feel particularly guilty after eating?
  • Do you have vomiting or the urge to vomit after a meal?
  • Do you think food controls your life?
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The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends asking your child:

  • How much do you think you should weigh?
  • What is your heaviest weight? How tall were you at the time? When is that?
  • In the past year, what was your least weight? How tall were you at the time? When is that?
  • Exercise: How much, how long, and intensity level? If you missed a workout, how stressed are you?

Your child’s answers to these questions may help you discover if he or she has any more typical symptoms of anorexia or bulimia. You may also ask if your child’s friend has an eating disorder. And don’t ignore the warning signs of young children.

Remember, 10% of people with eating disorders start before the age of 10. Therefore, even if your 8- or 9-year-old child is worried about getting fat or talking about dieting, be aware of other danger signal disturbances that he or she may eat.

At this point, your child may need to be further evaluated by a health professional who has experience in treating adolescent eating disorders. A registered dietitian may be a good starting point. If he really wants to be healthy and not just thin, they may be able to help him plan a healthy diet and ensure that he gets enough calories, vitamins and other nutrients to stay healthy and continue to grow normally.

A counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist may also be helpful, and your pediatrician may also be helpful, especially if they have established a good relationship.

If you are not sure where to take your child, the National Eating Disorders Association provides referral services and can provide you with “a list of doctors, dietitians, consultants, and inpatient and/or outpatient facilities in your area.”

Pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia information

What surprised most doctors and parents is that there are many organizations and websites that actually promote or encourage young people to suffer from eating disorders and anorexia. These include sites that support anorexia (pro-ana) and support bulimia (pro-mia), including photo galleries of skinny-looking models and celebrities (ultra-thin celebrities), tips on losing weight and hiding eating disorders, The list does not have too many calories of “safe foods” and foods that can increase metabolism (such as celery and green tea), forums and chat rooms to talk to other “pro Lexus”.

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They also support information, such as “Nothing tastes as good as feeling thin”, “Nothing is bad that weight loss cannot be cured”, articles about “The joy of anorexia”, “The beauty of bulimia”, and how to lose weight “Teach each other how to play dangerous games” and how to calculate the minimum number of calories needed to sustain life each day. They also have their own food pyramid, which is mainly composed of water, diet pills, diet soda, coffee, and cigarettes, and it is recommended to “eat less” food.

They have rules, such as “The THIN-commandments” and “Thinspirations”.

  • Does your child know what pro-ana or mia is?
  • Does she know who the “dragonfly” is (a group of relative anas)?
  • Does she want to be Anna or Mia?
  • Has he or she visited any professional eating disorder (pro ed) website?
  • Does he or she have a diary or diary?
  • Has he or she started to wear red bracelets as “a kind of “unity” with other people?
  • Does your child understand that anorexia is not an option, but an addiction?

If you think your child is trying to become an ana or mia or has other signs of an eating disorder, further evaluation is important.

Male eating disorders

Although eating disorders are more common among girls and young women, men can also suffer from eating disorders. The incidence of eating disorders in men seems to be on the rise, so it is also important to consider eating disorders in teenage boys and young men.

Very good sentence

Trying to figure out if your child/teen has an eating disorder can be very stressful, but there are resources available to help you support and seek treatment on their behalf. If you suspect that your child has an eating disorder, it is important to act quickly. First make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician, who can help detect early signs of an eating disorder and prevent its progression.

Many parents benefit from the support of other parents of children with eating disorders. Good support resources for parents include NEDA’s Parents, Family and Friends Network (PFN) and FEAST’s forum around the table. There are also some Facebook groups, including International Eating Disorder Family Support.