In this edition of EmpowHER's "HER Health Expert" Dr. Julie Anné discusses eating disorders and children and how a parent can avoid having their children develop eating disorders.
Dr. Julie Anné: The trend for eating disorders is frightening. We are seeing that kids at younger and younger ages are falling victim to these very deadly disorders.
The age of onset used to be between 13 and 17 years of age. The age of onset now is between 9 and 12 years of age. In my personal practice, I see children as young as six years of age that are displaying eating disorder symptoms. That is frightening.
I think the primary reason why we are seeing kids dieting at younger and younger ages is because our culture as a whole, our families, and our parents are focused on food and weight and body image.
The more we diet and teach our kids to be aware of calories and fat grams, believe it or not, the more it is going to backfire.
So we need to teach our children to have a non-dieting approach to food. There cannot be a good food, bad food category. We need to teach them all foods are okay, in moderation. And we want to eat when our bodies are telling us we’re hungry, we want to be able to give ourselves permission to eat.
If you see your child change their behavior relative to food, if you see them not partaking in certain activities that are focused on food, and not allowing themselves to eat in a normal way, you need to pay attention to that.
If you are seeing signs of an eating disorder, please do get your child evaluated sooner than later. We know that the earlier someone gets treated, the better the chance of complete recovery.