Eating disorders are preventable
Adolescence is a period of life where teens are developing their identity and becoming independent.
It is also when they start to develop unhealthy habits such as poor nutrition and lack of exercise.
During adolescence, there is an increase in appetite and food intake. This is due to hormonal changes that occur during puberty. The body is growing at a faster rate and requires more energy.
Teenagers often eat junk food because it is convenient and cheap. They also tend to skip meals because they are busy with school activities.
This article discusses the effects of pandemics on adolescent eating habits.
Eating disorders can be prevented by having healthy behaviors like:
• Having breakfast daily
• Drinking water instead of sugary drinks
• Choosing healthier snacks
• Not skipping meals
• Being active for 30 minutes every day
• Avoiding binge eating episodes or binges
• Staying away from people who have signs of depression or anxiety
• Talking about your feelings with friends and family members
What do teens need to know about eating disorders?
The risk factors associated with eating disorders include genetic predisposition, biological vulnerability; psychological distress; negative self-image; low levels of social support; and environmental stressors including abuse, bullying, poverty, trauma exposure, parental illness/death, substance use, and other stressful events.
In Australia, most eating disorder cases begin before age 16 years; however, some may not seek help until later in adulthood. Symptoms usually appear gradually over months to years. Common symptoms include losing weight, extreme fear of gaining weight, excessive exercising, feeling guilty after overeating, avoiding certain foods, being unable to stop thinking about food, and using laxatives or vomiting without medical supervision.
Eating disorders affect 1% – 2% of adolescents worldwide. In Australia, this number has been estimated at 0.5%. There have been several studies conducted about how the coronavirus affects people’s mental health. These include anxiety levels among parents, depression rates among children; stress levels among students; and fear of infection or illness amongst patients. However, no study was found regarding the impact of the pandemic on eating disorders.
In China, researchers used data from Wuhan University Hospital to conduct a survey. Their results showed that 19 out of 20 respondents reported having increased concerns for themselves and family members. Furthermore, 15 participants had changed their diet, and 13 were exercising more appetite than usual. Some participants even stopped going outside altogether.
Another Chinese research team surveyed over 1000 university students who live in Hubei province.
They found that almost half of them experienced sleep problems, and one-third felt anxious. Over50% said they avoided socializing with friends and family. Many also skipped breakfast.
A recent report by the World Health Organization stated that ‘COVID‐19 could be associated with a higher incidence of psychiatric conditions including mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse and suicide attempts.
‘Based on these findings, we can assume that teenagers may experience similar issues. Therefore, it would be beneficial if schools provided support services for those experiencing any form of distress.
If you notice any behavioral changes in your teenager, please contact your GP immediately. If necessary, they will refer you to a specialist service that can help identify underlying causes.
It is important to note that some cases of eating disorders do not involve physical symptoms. For example, bulimia nervosa involves purging behavior through vomiting or taking laxatives. Other types of eating disorders might cause weight loss but without obvious physical consequences.
Why it is necessary to get a cure for an eating disorder?
There are many reasons why someone develops anorexia nervosa or other forms of disordered eating. This includes genetic factors, biological influences, psychological ones such as low self‐esteem, perfectionism, body image dissatisfaction, negative thoughts about food, and environmental triggers such as bullying or trauma. All of these factors may contribute together to create a perfect storm for developing AN.
Most importantly, there is a need for early intervention before the onset of serious medical complications. The earlier treatment begins, the better the chance of recovery.
What does the future hold for eating disorders?
As mentioned above, eating disorders often begin during adolescence. As our society continues to change, so too must our understanding of what happens when young people develop unhealthy attitudes towards food and nutrition. We know that technology plays a significant role in influencing teen’s relationships with food and exercise. With more time spent online, kids spend less time playing outdoors and engaging in sports activities. Also, video games, smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc., make us sit down much longer than we did just ten years ago. All of these things take up valuable time that should be dedicated to doing something fun!
So, while the current situation is challenging, let’s look forward to seeing positive developments in preventing and managing eating disorders during the next decade. Hopefully, we’ll see new ways to encourage healthy living practices and improve overall wellbeing.
There are many different ways to treat eating disorders, such as:
– Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
– Family therapy
However, CBT remains the most effective treatment method available today. It focuses on changing negative thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes towards food and body image. The aim is to reduce emotional responses to food and improve self-esteem. A therapist helps clients learn new coping strategies to not rely on unhealthy methods to cope with emotions. Therapists also teach skills around problem-solving, goal setting, assertiveness, and communication.
Family therapy aims to change dysfunctional relationships between family members. This includes improving parent-child interactions and communicating better within families.
Psychopharmacology refers to drugs prescribed to manage severe forms of eating disorders.
Antidepressants are often used because they work well when combined with other treatments. Anti‐obsessive medications are sometimes given to control obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Notice the problem and start treatment as early as possible!