February 29, 2012

Anorexia Sees No Age, Color, or Gender

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Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Eating disorders increase amongst boys minorities and children under age twelve

(dailyRx News) Many people believe that anorexia and bulimia are disorders most apparent amongst white teenage girls, yet a recent report demonstrates that they’re increasingly affecting minorities, children, and boys.

David Rosen, M.D, M.P.H. professor of pediatrics at University of Michigan Medical School, is the author of a new clinical report entitled "Identification and Management of Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents".

He explains, “the epidemiology of eating disorders has gradually changed.”  

He calls upon his fellow pediatricians to “be familiar with early detection and appropriate management of these disorders.”

"Build positive self-esteem in children and young adults alike."

Written with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Adolescence, Dr. Rosen's research showed increases in eating disorders amongst males’ ages sixteen through nineteen, U.S. minorities ages twenty through twenty-three, and, “of particular concern,” children under age twelve.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicates that hospitalizations for these early adolescents increased nearly one-hundred-and-twenty-percent between 1999 and 2006. Furthermore, of every two hundred young girls in the U.S., it is approximated that one will have anorexia and anywhere from two to four will suffer from bulimia.

While these disorders are still more readily apparent among females, Rosen writes, “that up to five- to ten-percent of all cases of eating disorders occur in males.”

Moreover, many people suffer from less severe versions of these disorders, which fail to meet the strict criteria followed by physicians in the DSM-IV. According to the doctor, these individuals will be either labeled “partial syndromes” or “eating disorder not otherwise specified,” and there are more patients with these issues than anorexia and bulimia combined.

Of particular risk to these disorders are young athletes and entertainers who depend on their lean figure. Dancers, gymnasts, runners, and wrestlers, to name a few.

Rosen and the AAP believe, “efforts to prevent eating disorders can take place both in practice and community settings, such as schools” by teaching families and children alike the importance of a balanced diet and exercise. Emphasizing weight and dieting may add to the anxieties felt by young children, and thus, it’s more important to focus on healthy eating habits and physical activity patterns.

The free clinical report concludes with eight action items for pediatricians, soliciting them to first become an expert on risk factors and early warning signs while keeping a focus on positive self-esteem. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

The AAP funded the review and no conflicts of interest were reported.  

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
February 26, 2012

Last Updated:
February 29, 2012