ORLANDO, Fla. – Being obsessed with weight affects millions of teenagers. In fact, one out of seven young women has or is struggling with an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating.
A recent study found that one out of every three teen girls thought they were overweight and more than half were trying to lose weight. Experts warn there is a very fine line between trying to lose weight and developing a life-threatening eating disorder.
“It really scared me. And I was really tired and just felt a lot of continual pain. It also turned very quickly and led me down a path that was not going to be sustainable,” Lydia Rhio, who is recovering from anorexia, said.
Rhino hid her anorexia behind big clothes and isolated herself from friends. Those are two of the first warning signs to be aware of. Experts also say to watch what your children are watching on social media.
“Social media also puts a lot of messaging around exercise and dieting,” Elizabeth Easton, PsyD, a clinical psychologist for the Eating Recovery Center, said.
Other signs: when your teen suddenly avoids family meals or adheres to a specific diet. Know what’s in your pantry. Teens will hide food in their rooms to binge on later. Also, mood swings, an increase in exercise, and worry over their appearance.
“Look for pre-occupation in terms of body size. Negative associations, negative comments about their bodies or other people’s bodies, that kind of constant comparison,” Easton said.
Most importantly, if you think something may be wrong, don’t wait to get help. Call the national eating disorder hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
“My greatest fear is that they’ll wait too long to reach out to anyone,” Easton said.
Another warning sign to be aware of… a sudden drop in grades. As the emotional and physical toll an eating disorder takes on a teen can play out as an inability to concentrate and focus.
For help with your child or a loved one, you can find out more information by clicking here.