As a parent, you’ve likely dealt with a fussy eater. But, how do you know if a younger child is facing an eating disorder? Or if a child’s behavior is a sign of a future eating disorder?

Usually, we think of eating disorders as affecting teens and pre-teens. But, the number of children diagnosed with eating disorders is rising. Children as young as 7 are being diagnosed and treated for eating disorders. Studies show 40 to 60 percent of girls 6 to 12 years old are worried about their body shape or weight. And, 80 percent of girls have been on a diet by the fourth grade.

Detecting eating disorders in children isn’t easy, but early detection and prevention are key to treatment. The signs are often hard to notice and don’t always focus on body image or weight.

Warning Signs

Early warning signs can include:

  • fear of stomach aches
  • tantrums
  • excessive bowel movements
  • worry about body image

Is It An Eating Disorder?

Signs of an on-going eating disorder can include:

  • avoiding eating
  • reducing food portions
  • weight loss
  • lack of growth
  • thinning of hair
  • delay of puberty
  • constipation or digestion problems
  • hiding or hoarding food
  • mood swings
  • fine hair growth on the body

If you think your child is struggling with eating or showing any of the above signs, speak to your pediatrician. As a parent, you know your child and know if their actions are unusual to them. 

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