Anorexia in Children

Anorexia is an eating disorder which causes those affected by the condition to develop an all-consuming obsession with weight and body image. Behavioral patterns revolve predominantly around the overarching goal of weight loss and can result in the subordination of previous interests. With the obsession to lose weight, they only eat or try to avoid a certain type of foods and drinks such as consuming too many sugary drinks to achieve the weight they desire. Although in some cases anorexia in children can prove fatal, early intervention has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms.     

Types of Anorexia    

There are two types of anorexia.     

  • Bulimia Type    

Patients binge on food before purging with laxatives or through self-induced vomiting.      

  • Restrictor Type 

Patients place excessive limits on the quantity of food that they consume.     

Causes    

Anorexia’s etiology remains unclear. However, it’s generally accepted that the condition typically starts out as normal dieting and slowly progresses into anorexia. Factors which are thought to influence the condition’s development include;     

  • Societal expectations
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Brain chemical imbalances
  • Developmental issues    

Family influences also play a key role. To the extent that a child with a family background of weight problems, physical illness, and mental health issues is at an increased risk of becoming anorexic. Moreover, in cases where families are intransigent and demanding, or interfering and overprotective, the probability of anorexia also rises.         

Who is most at risk?    

Anorexia was a condition which was primarily observed in girls. While girls still comprse the majority of those affected, the gender picture is continually changing. Nowadays an increasing minority of anorexia patients are boys. A similar trend is observable in terms of socioeconomic class. Where once anorexia was exclusively associated with the upper and middle classes, it now affects a broad cross-section of society at large.     

Symptoms    

Symptoms vary from child to child, but can include;    

anorexia in children
  • Excessively low body weight
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Overexercising
  • Highly ritualized eating behaviors
  • An unhealthy obsession with bodyweight
  • Depression    

The physical symptoms associated with anorexia closely resemble those of starvation and malnourishment. They can include;    

  • Overly dry skin
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Discolored skin
  • Increased sensitivity to low temperatures 

Complications     

Anorexia can potentially lead to a multitude of further health complications. For example, the functioning of the heart and kidneys may be compromised, mild anemia or leukopenia may develop, menstrual periods may stop altogether, or growth hormone levels may drop.     

Treatment    

The precise nature of the treatment that a child will receive depends on a number of factors. Factors which are taken into consideration include;    

  • The range of symptoms the child exhibits
  • General health
  • Overall severity of the condition
  • Age    

Typically, however, the treatment of anorexia in children involves a multidisciplinary approach which involves individual therapy and family therapy overlapping with nutritional rehabilitation and with the targeted use of medications.

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