EAT­ING DIS­OR­DERS AMONG CHIL­DREN

Eat­ing dis­or­ders can af­fect chil­dren, too, says clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Carine Al Khazen, and the reper­cus­sions can be dan­ger­ous…

Friday - - Health -

WHICH DIS­OR­DERS AF­FECT CHIL­DREN? [Adult and child dis­or­ders are] the same, and have the same psy­cho­log­i­cal and med­i­cal reper­cus­sions. But the med­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions on chil­dren are more dra­matic, as they in­volve stunted growth and im­paired neu­ro­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Avoidant Re­stric­tive Food In­take Dis­or­der, a chil­dren’s eat­ing dis­or­der that is less fre­quent in adults, is an anx­i­ety dis­or­der about food where chil­dren have in­tense fear of foods be­cause they have had a neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence around it. With time their fears ex­pand and they reach a state of mal­nour­ish­ment, and star­va­tion in ex­treme cases. It’s picky eat­ing to the ex­treme.

WHAT ARE THE WARN­ING SIGNS? Ex­treme weight fluc­tu­a­tions. Even if the weight loss is called for, it should not have hap­pened in a very short pe­riod of time and shouldn’t have re­quired ob­ses­sive be­hav­iours (like ex­treme di­et­ing and ex­er­cise reg­i­mens). If so, it could def­i­nitely be the early sign of anorexia ner­vosa. Food miss­ing from the house and/or hid­den candy and choco­late wrap­pers dis­cov­ered in odd places could mean binge-eat­ing. Body-check­ing be­hav­iours like spend­ing un­due amounts of time in front of the mir­ror scru­ti­n­is­ing their bod­ies, fre­quent and neg­a­tive com­ments about their bod­ies, and a need for con­stant re­as­sur­ance re­gard­ing their body weight and shape could be other point­ers.

WHAT CAN PAR­ENTS DO? Seek help as soon as you spot the signs. Even if you are wrong, one con­sul­ta­tion can­not give your child some­thing they don’t have – bet­ter to be safe than sorry. Please re­mem­ber, it’s a life-threat­en­ing dis­or­der that has much bet­ter out­comes when treated early. Once the di­ag­no­sis is con­firmed, present the multi-dis­ci­plinary treat­ment as non-ne­go­tiable.

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