Eating Disorders in Children
Eating disorders in younger children are obviously very concerning. Younger children tend to react in a more dramatic way in the early stages of the illnesses, often stopping drinking as well as eating, being quite naïve in their approach and often become very ill very quickly. Younger children are also growing rapidly and therefore require greater amounts of energy in calories than older children or adults and therefore (if they are restricting their food intake) can lose weight very easily. Particularly worrying for parents is the finding that many GPs admit that they would not initially consider eating disorders as a cause of weight loss or appetite disturbance in children under 12. That being said, younger children should not be losing weight unless they really need to do so – and in this case it should be supervised by a GP or dietician. Weight loss should always be taken seriously, so if you are concerned, do seek advice quickly.
Practical advice for parents
Although any disordered eating in younger children is very worrying and potentially very serious, an advantage for parents is that younger children are generally more likely to follow parent's advice and methods. Therefore with help and mindful of time, families can often be helped to "turn things around" at home.
We can help you discuss via the parent helpline, issues of weight, emotions, trigger factors, as well as offer practical suggestions for the management and recovery of an eating disorder, so do please ring our parents and carers helpline or email us. Our publications page also has several informative booklets and articles for parents and carers.