New research reveals that more than half of all anorexia and bulimia sufferers developed the eating disorder by their 10th birthday. It’s no longer just an issue affecting teenagers — how horrifying is that, HollyMoms?
Listen up, parents of tweens. We have some news that you must read. As if raising a child, protecting them from bullies at school and keeping them away from dangerous influences wasn’t stressful enough, a new study has revealed that most eating disorders begin before the age of 10. Yes, you read that correctly. According to a story in The Sun newspaper in the UK, anorexia and bulimia are no longer just serious issues for high school students. Going for days without eating as well as binging and purging are now problems for the junior high crowd.
The British branch of Overeaters Anonymous surveyed 250 people affected with anorexia. They discovered that eating disorders are prevalent in children as young as 7! Fifty-three percent of those studied admit that they developed an issue with food by the age of 10.
“Some might find the results of the survey shocking,” says a spokesperson for Overeaters Anonymous GB. “But, as our members have underlined, it is not uncommon for us to see people who developed an eating disorder before they reached their teens.”
What on earth would lead your preteen to stop eating? Experts say that peer pressure, trouble at home and even super-skinny celebrities are fueling the rise in eating disorders among impressionable tweens.
“By the age of 10, some of my little girl clients are already finding fault with their bodies. They say they’re fat already!” psychotherapist Dr. Gilda Carle Ph.D. tells HollyBaby.com. She points out that parents are often at the root of their child’s disorder, usually without even realizing it. “I had one mother remove a pillow from her living room that said, ‘You can never be too rich or too thin.’ That mom didn’t even realize she had the pillow in her house, but her child did and she internalized the message.”
So what’s a parent to do if you suspect your child is developing an eating disorder? Pay attention to who they admire and what body type their role models have. Dr. Carle stresses the importance of parents staying involved in every aspect of their kids lives, right down to what they’re putting (or not putting) in their mouths.
“Parents, please wake up! Sometimes the people closest to you are the ones you don’t really see,” she says. “Parents must pay close attention to what their child is eating. Is she excusing herself after a meal and running to the bathroom? Is her vocabulary peppered with the word ‘diet’? Is she on a seesaw of losing and gaining weight? These are all signs of a possible problem.”
Several celebrities have been opening up about their struggles with eating disorders. American Idol alum Katharine McPhee battled bulimia. A skeletal Mary-Kate Olsen checked herself into rehab in 2004 because of her issues with eating. And Jaime Pressly ate nothing but one English muffin a day when she was a young model.
Just remember, HollyMoms, it’s never too young to start talking to your kids about their bodies and the dangers of eating disorders.