Skip to content

Children's Health

Helping Your 'Not-Thin' Kids

What parents should (and shouldn't) do
Font Size
A
A
A

Eating Disorders on the Rise

Anorexia has risen steadily since the 1950s, while the rate of bulimia among 10- to 39-year-olds tripled between 1988 and 1993, according to Diane Mickley, MD, director of the Wilkins Center (which specializes in eating disorders, self-esteem, and weight issues).

What are the ages when children are most vulnerable to developing eating disorders? "For anorexia it's … in the 12- to 13-year ballpark, around physical puberty, and also later, in the 17-year range, around the approach of separation for college," says Mickley. "Bulimia has a peak onset during the college-aged years."

Research shows these illnesses may be hereditary (as much so as schizophrenia). But environment is also important.

"For anorexia, the vulnerable temperament is anxious, harm-avoidant, perfectionistic, disciplined, restrained, responsible, people-pleasing," says Mickley, "while for bulimia, being more impulsive, stimulus-seeking, and [changeable] seems to put people more at risk."

In a vulnerable person, experts say, an intentional -- even appropriate -- weight loss "diet" can generate a series of events that help set an eating disorder in motion.

So what should a concerned parent do when a child is overweight or obese? And -- just as important -- what should parents not do? Here are some tips from the experts:

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool