Kids Under 12 Are Being Hospitalized for Eating Disorders

Boys as well as girls are victims of anorexia.

Kids Under 12 Are Being Hospitalized for Eating Disorders

Boys as well as girls are victims of anorexia.

-Jane Farrell

An unhappy boy

Eating disorders, which most people have associated with adolescent girls and young women, are actually affecting kids under 12 so seriously that some of them have to be hospitalized, according to a recent study.

The report, published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says that “the incidence and prevalence of eating disorders has increased significantly in recent decades.” Ironically, the rise in eating disorders comes at the same time as an increase in obesity among children, and this, in turn, does more to encourage inappropriate dieting among kids, the report said. Other factors include a media emphasis on thinness and even parents’ own issues with body image.

Read KayCee Stroh Opens Up About Her Battle With Anorexia

Other statistics and conclusions in the report, which covered anorexia and bulimia:

*More and more men and minorities now have eating disorders.
*Hospitalizations of children under 12 have jumped 119 percent between 1999 and 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available.
*The media’s obsession with thinness increases kids’ uncertainty about their weight.
*Some parents may themselves have body-image issues, and that affects kids.

The report, by AAP Fellow David Rosen, M.D, and the organization’s Committee on Adolescence, urged pediatricians to routinely screen for eating disorders during an annual exam or an exam to determine whether a child can play a sport. “Screening questions about eating and body image should be asked of all preteens and adolescents,” the report says. It also pointed out that a “simple denial” by the patient shouldn’t be accepted by the physician, since people who suffer from eating disorders often hide their illness. Detection of eating disorders is crucial because of the medical problems that are linked to them – everything from dehydration to heart attacks.

Once a patient has finished treatment for an eating disorder, whether in a hospital or not, supervision and follow-up sessions are essential, most often for 10 years. But with good treatment and care, most patients recover fully. (aap)

Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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