The symptoms of anorexia in children are basically the same as those observed in adults. Although teenage girls and young women are usually considered the most common sufferers of anorexia, younger girls and boys can be diagnosed with the eating disorder as well. Regardless of whether they actually need to lose weight, people suffering from anorexia tend to view themselves as overweight. Generally, their ultimate goal is significant weight loss through diet and exercise, and they sometimes use dangerous means — such as self-starvation or binging and purging — to accomplish this. Children with anorexia might display some obvious physical symptoms and exhibit certain behavioral patterns.
Anorexia affects approximately 1% of the U.S. population, primarily women and teenage girls. It generally involves an unhealthy preoccupation with food, even though the problem is not necessarily food itself. Rather, sufferers are typically dealing with their emotional issues by attempting to control their body weight and appearance. They may reject certain types of foods or refuse to eat at all. Anorexia in children may cause them to hide food or lie and say that they are not hungry. Furthermore, children with access to laxatives or diuretics might abuse them to help them avoid weight gain.
The behaviors of anorexic children are usually rooted in an extreme fear of gaining weight. They engage in continual dieting and compulsive exercise to avoid weight gain. In addition to being underweight, some physical signs of starvation can include fatigue, weakness, hair loss, bone problems, and poor circulation. Anorexia in children can lead to distorted thinking, in terms of food and one’s body image. It is also frequently associated with social withdrawal, isolation, and depression.
There are various causes and risk factors associated with anorexia. Certain children may be predisposed to developing anorexia due to their genetics. There are also environmental contributing factors, such as stress. A child who is a high achiever in academics, athletics, or the arts, for example, may face a great deal of pressure from parents and mentors. High expectations, whether self-imposed or from external sources, could lead the child to develop anorexia.
Doctors have several ways of diagnosing anorexia in children. They can observe physical and psychological symptoms, and they can perform diagnostic tests such as X-rays and blood tests. Caretakers of children who exhibit symptoms, or who suspect that their child may have risk factors associated with developing anorexia in the future, should seek the advice of a physician. Serious cases can require hospitalization and can result in death if not handled properly. Early treatment of anorexia in children is typically the best way to prevent serious health consequences.