Anorexia in Teens

Anorexia in Teens

Anorexia nervosa is a serious type of eating disorder in which individuals generally restrict how many calories they consume and what types of food they eat. People who are suffering from anorexia nervosa could also binge eat, exercise compulsively, and purge through the use of laxatives, diuretics and/or self-induced vomiting.

Other hallmarks of anorexia nervosa might include:

  • Being an abnormally low weight for someone of their age and stature
  • Losing weight
  • Having a distorted body image


Who Develops Anorexia Nervosa?

There are various myths surrounding eating disorders, many of which involve who develops them. Experts have not been able to pin down any singular cause behind anorexia and other eating disorders; they now largely believe that a variety of environmental, biological, and genetic factors contribute to one’s likelihood of developing an eating disorder. 

While anorexia tends to start during one’s adolescence, more and more older adults as well as children are being diagnosed with the disease – teenagers included.


Anorexia in Teens

In 2012, the National Eating Disorders Association published a review titled “Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in Adolescents.” The review looked at a study that used data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement, which looked at 10,123 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18; this sample was considered nationally representative of the United States. 

Anorexia nervosa was among the five eating disorder diagnoses that were ascertained over the course of the study, which found that 0.3% of the children had anorexia nervosa. In terms of when anorexia nervosa tended to appear in the children, the study found that the median age of onset was between 12 and 13 years old, and most teenagers with an anorexia nervosa diagnosed also reported to be significantly functionally impaired. 

In terms of gender, the study found that the amount of girls who were suffering from anorexia were not significantly higher than boys. Furthermore, the only psychiatric diagnosis that anorexia was associated with was oppositional defiant disorder, a mental illness characterized by children who frequently and persistently behave angrily or even vindictively towards authority figures. These two findings of the study were surprising to those analyzing it at the National Eating Disorders Association; they were unsure whether they were due to factors such as the methods used to analyze the subjects, the subjects’ ages, or perhaps something else. 


Treatment for Anorexia and Other Eating Disorders

The study also found that the crude mortality rate was about 4.0% for individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa, highlighting the importance of early intervention. And while eating disorders can be severe, potentially life-threatening illnesses, they are also treatable, though no two treatment and recovery journeys may look the same. 

Eating Disorder Hope offers an interactive map that can help people locate treatment for eating disorders across all fifty states, or you may wish to contact an eating disorder hotline if you are worried about yourself or a loved one. Additionally, we are here to help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You may contact us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form

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