Eating disorders frequently first appear in a child during the teenage years. They are seen in girls much more frequently than in boys. Bulimia and anorexia may begin and initially look like dieting but are much more severe. Anorexia nervosa(nervous loss of appetite) may involve very little or no eating. The individual always sees themselves as fat even if they are very thin and is usually very particular and obsessive in their presentation about many things. Bulimia is a disorder in which the person demonstrates ambivalence about food. At times they may binge on food usually specific foods and then follow this by purging(vomiting or use of suppositories)in an attempt to end the sensation of fullness. Both disorders can be dangerous, debilitating and are experienced by very unhappy people who can't accept themselves. Both disorders warrant treatment. This therapy is typically coordinated with primary care physicians and at times a nutritionist.
Overeating in teens is a more frequently seen phenomenon in our country than was observed years ago. This is partially due to an increasingly sedentary life style and the prevalence of fast and processed foods in their diets. Sometimes overeating is a reflection of eating being the primary soothing activity of the individual's family and therefore a primary issue. Other times overeating occurs in the form of 'stuffing' feelings and emotions after a period of trauma and is then an issue secondary to other problems. Those who overeat can and should receive help in the areas of counseling, nutrition and exercise.
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