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Binge Eating Disorder in Kids and Teens

How to Help Your Child

If you're worried your child may have this disorder:

  • Learn as much as you can about it. The cause of binge eating disorder is unclear. It's likely there's more than one cause. Genes, body image, diet history, and emotional health are factors that seem to play a role.
  • Talk with your child in private, when you're calm. Say something like, "I'm concerned about you and what's going on with you," without talking about eating or food. Remember, this illness isn't really about eating. It's about feelings and other issues.
  • Listen. Don't judge or make it about blame. Try "I" statements. ("I noticed you ate all the cookies last night.") Avoid saying "you." ("You have a problem." "You should stop that.")
  • Show extra support. Don't harp about what to eat or how much.
  • Have family activities that aren't food-based. Have a game night, walk the dogs.
  • Talk to your child's doctor. The quicker you take action, the less ingrained the habit will become. The doctor can check overall health and refer you to experts.


There's no single treatment for binge eating disorder. A mix of talk therapy, learning new ways to cope with triggers that set off binges, nutrition classes, and family training can help your child reach a healthy mindset and stable weight.

There is no FDA-approved medication for the disorder, but in early studies some medications have shown promise. Sometimes antidepressant medications are prescribed either for bingeing behavior itself or for related problems involving depression.

It also helps to work on boosting overall health and body image. Yoga, movement classes, meditation, or doing art may help.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 23, 2014
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