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Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders Are Also a Disorder for Male Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 12, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Eating Disorders in Boys

TeenBoyCanstock1The words ‘eating disorders’ often conjure up images of young female teens, yet research suggests that numerous boys and teens are also at risk. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders, one in every 10 cases of eating disorders involves males.

Maudsley Parents, meanwhile, notes that while in the 1960s and 1970s, eating disorders in males were thought to be practically non-existent, in the 1980s and 1990s the number of males affected was thought to stand at around 10 per cent and now, males make up 25 per cent of eating disorder patients.

Boys as young as seven or eight can develop anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorders or Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) and it is estimated that some 10 million boys and youths in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.

The most common age for the development of anorexia nervosa is the late teens or early 20s, while binge eating disorder tends to arise in males and females in their 20s. The most common age for the onset of bulimia, meanwhile, is 12 to 25. Sometimes, although an official disorder is not diagnosed, problems still exist. According to National Eating Disorders.org, for instance, around three per cent of teen boys display unhealthy weight control behaviors, while 43 per cent of men are dissatisfied with their body image.

Some of the most pertinent findings on male eating disorders include:

  • While female with eating disorders tend to focus on thinness, boys and teens aim for a lean, ‘ripped’ body in which muscles are visible.
  • Males who play sports which are judged have a 13 per cent risk of developing an eating disorder, compared to only three per cent in those who play referred sports.
  • Male athletes with anorexia commonly have the following personality traits: competitiveness, being impulsive, having a tendency to be depressed, perfectionism, worrying about weight and hyperactivity.
  • Some sports in which eating disorders have been more prevalent include weightlifting, wrestling, gymnastics, dancing, and bodybuilding. Often, males feel that looking more muscular will bring them success in other areas (for instance, in social acceptance, acceptance by romantic interests, etc.).
  • Eating disorders in males can be linked to the concept of ‘control’. Males can feel that is their duty to control all aspects of their lives, including how they look. This can lead to an obsession with dieting, attendance at the gym, etc.
  • Males are less likely to obtain help when they have eating disorders for many reasons. Firstly, anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are often thought of as an exclusively ‘female’ problem. Secondly, boys and teens can be fearful that their concerns will not be taken seriously by health professionals. Thirdly, they often don’t know who to turn to.
  • Signs to watch out for in boys include an obsession with exercise or eating specific foods, not being able to resist exercise even when one is injured, low testosterone levels, etc.

If you or a loved one may have an eating disorder, it is vital to obtain help; anorexia nervosa has an alarmingly high mortality rate, and the sooner diagnosis and treatment are received, the better. Gold standard treatments for eating disorders include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (in which patients are taught about the interrelationship between how they think, behave, and act, and taught practical strategies to overcome obsessive thoughts and negativity).

Another excellent treatment is Maudsley Therapy, which involves the whole family supporting the person with the eating disorder. Families are taught to set aside blame and judgement and focus on a positive strategy that each members plays an important role in carrying out.

In eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, the first step is to establish weight gain. In bulimia, the key is to stop the bingeing-purging cycle, while in binge eating disorder, bingeing is the key behavior which must be prevented.

Once the individual establishes a normal weight and begins to feel stronger, they are then given more freedom with respect to choosing the types of food they eat, etc. Eventually, they develop a healthy, positive relationship with food, and recognize the triggers that can lead to a relapse into unhealthy behaviors. Patients also need to be tested for other possible co-existing conditions (such as depression, or anxiety). If present, these conditions need to be diagnosed and treated, to enable lasting recovery.

Contributor: Helen Young

If you feel your son is struggling with an eating disorder and you have exhausted your local resources, it might be time to consider residential therapy.  Please contact us for options.

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Dangers of Digital Dieting and Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 07, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Digital Dieting

DigDatingIt is not a secret, being healthy is good for you.  Society dictates that being thin is in, however we need to understand that being healthy is priority.  Thin for one person may not be the same as it is for another.

Teenagers surf the net more than ever and what they are finding can be educational but it can also be harmful to their health.  There are actually sites that promote anorexia and show your teens how to hide this deadly disorder.

Parents should also be aware of what their kids may be exposed to online – and the websites that promote dangerous and destructive dieting. The best Internet filter is the one that runs in teens’ heads – not any filter a parent may install on a home computer. Talk with your children about dangerous and inappropriate sites and keep the lines of communication open so that they might come to you when they encounter destructive information and images online. – Connect with Kids

The National Eating Disorders Association offers these tips for kids on eating well and feeling good about themselves:

  • Eat when you are hungry. Stop eating when you are full.
  • All foods can be part of healthy eating. There are no “good” or “bad” foods, so try to eat lots of different foods, including fruits, vegetables, and even sweets sometimes.
  • When having a snack try to eat different types.
  • If you are sad or mad or have nothing to do-and you are not really hungry find something to do other than eating.
  • Remember: kids and adults who exercise and stay active are healthier and better able to do what they want to do, no matter what they weigh or how they look.
  • Try to find a sport or an activity that you like and do it! Join a team, join the YMCA, join in with a friend or even practice by yourself

If you believe your teen is at risk, please seek help through adolescent therapists. When you have exhausted your local resources, please contact us for more information on residential treatment. Eating disorders are a very serious concern.

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Teens, Body Image and Eating Disorders

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 24, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

Teens Body Image and Eating Disorders

Body image is a serious subject to both pre-teens and teens.

It’s bathing suit season combined with the pressure to fit-in with the cool-kids, today’s teens may take drastic measures to drop pounds.

Of course the Internet has resources that is always a click away to give them ideas (and not in a good way) to lose weight quickly.

As much as the web is an educational tool, it can also be used for purposes that are not healthy for people.

Many dangerous places exist in cyberspace, especially for those with body image difficulties. A quick, easy Google search can produce a long list of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites – places where those who suffer from eating disorders (ED) support each other and establish a sense of community.

There are at least 100 active pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia sites. Some statistics state that several of these sites have accumulated tens of thousands of hits. Many sites treat eating disorders as lifestyle choices, rather than the illnesses they truly are. Most personify anorexia (“Ana”) and bulimia (“Mia”) into companions – individuals one can look to for guidance and strength.

The medical community classifies eating disorders as mental illnesses. Experts say girls with eating disorders focus on their bodies in a misguided bid to resolve deeper psychological issues, believing that they can fix their inner troubles by achieving a perfect outside.

EatingDisorderEating disorder specialists say pro-anorexia sites are particularly dangerous since those suffering from the disease are usually in deep denial and cling to the illness to avoid dealing with its psychological underpinnings. Websites that glorify eating disorders make treatment increasingly difficult.

  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
  • There are an estimated 7 million females and 1 million males suffering from eating disorders in the United States.
  • The Harvard Eating Disorders Center estimates that 3 percent of adolescent women and girls have anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorders.
  • Four-of-five 13-year-old girls have attempted to lose weight.
  • One study showed that 42 percent of first- through third-grade girls want to be thinner.

About 1 percent of females between 10 and 20 have anorexia nervosa. Between 2 percent and 3 percent of young women develop bulimia nervosa. Almost half of all anorexics will develop bulimia or bulimic patterns.

Without treatment, up to 20 percent of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, the mortality rate falls to 2 to 3 percent. The recovery rate with treatment is about 60 percent. Alas, only 10 percent of those with eating disorders receive treatment.

Pro-ED sites are just one reason why parents need to monitor children’s online behavior. In the web journals or logs (blogs) of these sites, users share near-starvation diets, offer tips for coping with hunger and detail ways to avoid the suspicions of family members.

They discuss extreme calorie restriction and weight loss through laxatives, diet pills and purging (self-induced vomiting).

  • Between the ages of 8 and 14, females naturally gain at least 40 pounds.
  • More than half of teenage girls are – or think they should be – on diets.
  • Websites were changing the very culture surrounding eating disorders, making them more acceptable to girls on and off the Internet.
  • Pro-ED sites thrive off the denial aspect of the illnesses while promoting the perceived benefits of having an eating disorder.

Bulimia Nervosa message conceptual design

Eating disorders in children and teens cause serious changes in eating habits that can lead to major, even life threatening health problems. The three main types of eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia , a condition in which a child refuses to eat adequate calories out of an intense and irrational fear of becoming fat
  • Bulimia , a condition in which a child grossly overeats (binging) and then purges the food by vomiting or using laxatives to prevent weight gain
  • Binge eating, a condition in which a child may gorge rapidly on food, but without purging

Resources provided by:

  • Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc.
  • Harvard Eating Disorders Center
  • The National Institute of Mental Health
  • Reuters
  • Socialist Voice of Women
  • WebMD
  • South Carolina Department of Mental Health

If you suspect your child is struggling with an eating disorder, get help immediately.  If they refuse to attend local resources or you are not seeing any progress, please contact us for residential therapy options.

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