Obese Kids Who Lose Weight May Develop Eating Disorders Along the Way

Now one more thing to worry about.  Just as soon as obese girls start losing weight, they're at risk of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. That's the conclusion of a new study, as reported by newswise.com.

And it's a double-edged sword, because families and doctors may see "the weight loss . . . as positive," Mayo Clinic researchers imply in a recent Pediatrics article, and therefore not detect the problem.

The scary facts are that at least 6 percent of adolescents suffer from eating disorders, and more than 55 percent of high school females and 30 percent of males "report disordered eating symptoms including engaging in one or more maladaptive behaviors (fasting, diet pills, vomiting, laxatives, binge eating) to induce weight loss."

Formerly overweight adolescents tend to have more medical complications from eating disorders and "it takes longer to diagnose them than kids who are in a normal weight range," newswise.com quotes Leslie Sim, PhD.  "This is problematic because early intervention is the key to a good prognosis," says Sim, Ph.D., an eating disorders expert in the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center and lead author of the study.

Citing percentages, Sim notes that the numbers "represent a substantial portion of adolescents presenting for eating disorder treatment."

Think about it.  You've been bugged all your life about your weight and now you're losing it, and the feedback is so positive you want to lose more.  But diets take time so why not binge and eat?  That way you can still eat your favorite foods, then purge to get ride of it, and you're still losing weight. Sound like I've been there? Well, maybe a little.

The real challenge is that it's very hard to detect eating disorders in this population, researchers say.

"They lost way too much weight and became preoccupied with their eating," Sim told healthday.com. "Every thought and behavior really surrounded eating."

Newswise.com says that eating disorders are so dangerous because they have a high rate of relapse, and provide "significant impairment to daily life, along with a host of medical side effects that can be life-threatening," says Sim.

The study described two teenagers -- one male, one female -- who each lost almost 90 pounds over a several-year period, and were not thought to have eating disorders, but actually did.

"We think obese kids are at risk for eating disorders because they are getting a lot of media messages that they are not healthy and that there is something wrong with them and they need to change their ways," healthday.com quotes Sim. "And because they are teens, they do extreme things."

Weight loss is not that typical for adolescents, Sim said. "I think parents should be concerned with any weight loss."


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