Eating disorders are damaging for teenagers, which is why it is important that you spot these problems early, so your child can receive help. One of the biggest signs of an eating disorder is an obsession with dieting. “Teenage girls and boys who continue to count calories, avoid food or eating and feel fat even when they are thin may have an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa,” says Joy L. LeDoux-Johnson, MD, internal medicine physician and pediatrician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “With this disorder, adolescents starve themselves so they can lose weight. These patients have a distorted body image. They actually see themselves as being overweight.”
Bulimia, a disorder in which young people frequently binge-eat and then force themselves to vomit, can cause depression, dental problems and irregular periods for girls. “Teenagers with bulimia frequently head to the bathroom after meals,” says LeDoux-Johnson. “They also may hide food or laxatives in their room.”
If you notice any of these signs in your daughter or son, talk to your doctor right away.