In the United States, as many as 1 in 10 young women have an eating disorder. Disordered eating related to stress, poor nutritional habits, and food fads are relatively common problems for youth. In addition, two psychiatric eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia, are on the increase among teenage girls and young women and often run in families. These eating disorders also occur in boys, but less often.
With comprehensive treatment, most children and teenagers can recover from disordered eating. Treatment for eating disorders typically includes a combination of individual therapy, family therapy, working with a primary care physician, working with a nutritionist, and medication. Many children and adolescents with eating disorders also suffer from other behavioral health problems including depression, anxiety, and/or substance use. It is important to recognize and get appropriate treatment for these conditions as well.
Research shows that early identification and treatment leads to more favorable outcomes. Parents who notice symptoms of disordered eating in their children or teens should speak with their family doctor or pediatrician.