While eating disorders may seem rare, studies show some alarming rates of harmful food behaviors. In this article, we will walk you through some facts and statistics about eating disorders in teenagers, some risks associated with these behaviors, and how to find help for you or a loved one.
Eating Disorders in Teenagers
While eating disorders can occur at any age, many people begin struggling with food during adolescence. If you are concerned that your child may have an eating disorder, it’s important to get help right away.
Eating disorders can cause serious health issues that may become life-threatening when untreated. Some health complications related to eating disorders include:
- Heart problems
- Impaired kidney function
- Low blood sugars
- Weakening of bones or osteoporosis
This is why it’s important to know the signs and act quickly when you see that your teen is struggling with food. Now, let’s look at some surprising statistics about eating disorders in teenagers.
Eating Disorder Statistics and Facts
50% of people with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa developed their disorder before the age of 19.1
If you notice that your child is disappearing to the bathroom after meals, feeling guilty about eating, or hiding empty food wrappers or laxative packaging, they may be struggling with bulimia or binge eating disorder.
35-57% of teenage girls admit to dieting or purging.2
Alarmingly, one-third to one-half of adolescent girls engage in these forms of disordered eating. These diets can quickly turn into eating disorders as their overall energy intake declines and the obsession with weight loss intensifies.
Purging is any behavior used to compensate for what someone ate, such as excessive exercising, use of laxatives, or self-induced vomiting. If you notice any of these behaviors in a loved one, it’s important to get help quickly.
81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of gaining too much weight.2
This statistic indicates that the majority of pre-teen girls are scared of weight gain, which can lead to unhealthy behaviors to control their size and appearance. In our thin-obsessed culture, body dissatisfaction has been accepted as a norm.
While not everyone who is uncomfortable with their body has an eating disorder, it may increase their risk. Negative body image coupled with another mental health disorder, trauma, or a genetic predisposition to an eating disorder can increase the likelihood that they will struggle with food.
Living in a larger body is a risk factor for developing an eating disorder.2
Many children and teens experience weight-related bullying, which may result in extreme attempts to lose weight. Even well-meaning recommendations from health care professionals advising weight loss can result in shame about their bodies. This shame may lead to extreme methods to alter their body size, such as dieting and restricting their calorie intake.
Hope for Teens Who Have Eating Disorders
It can be scary to have a child with an eating disorder, and the process of recovery can feel daunting for those who are suffering from the disorder. It can be hard to let go of their eating behaviors, but many adolescents also long to beat the disorder so that they can feel like a normal teen again.
While it may feel impossible now, many teenagers who have gone through our program have been able to heal their relationship with food. Now, they are able to go out for ice cream with friends, order whatever they want at a restaurant without fear of calories, and are able to confidently adapt to last-minute changes in dinner plans.
This type of recovery is possible for you, too. Give us a call at 765.442.3551 or fill out our contact form to learn more about how Selah House can support you in your journey to food freedom.