Warning signs of eating disorders in children

Published on September 19, 2012 at 9:33 AM · No Comments

It's a discussion that strikes fear in the hearts of most parents – adolescents expressing concern about their weight.  According to statistics, 1 out of every 100 girls, between the ages of 10 and 20, struggles with anorexia and four percent of college-aged women have bulimia. So how can parents distinguish between normal adolescent insecurities and the start of a dangerous eating disorder?

"The most important thing a parent can do is listen," says Susan McClanahan, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anorexia and bulimia. She also is an instructor in Psychiatry at Northwestern University Medical School and co-founder of Insight Behavioral Health Centers.

"Early intervention is extremely important in the treatment of this disease," says Dr. McClanahan.  "If you notice your teen focusing on body image and weight issues, it can be an early warning sign that it's time to get professional help."

Here are some behaviors Dr. McClanahan says may signal a child in the early stages of an eating disorder:

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