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3 Ways to Spot Eating Disorders in Children

Eating disorders often develop during childhood and adolescence. Sadly, eating disorders are common in children and often go unnoticed for several months or even years. Early detection and treatment are fundamental to helping children recover from eating disorders and transition into healthy adults. Noticing that your child has an eating disorder is not always easy, although there are some common telltale signs that you should be aware of. Here are three ways to spot eating disorders in children.

1. Behavioral signs

Behavioral signs are the first thing that most parents notice when their child has an eating disorder. Here are some behavioral signs that you should look out for:

  • Exercising excessively, especially after meals.

  • Dressing in baggy or shapeless clothing.

  • Going to the toilet straight after meals or throwing up.

  • Constantly checking the calorie and fat content of foods.

  • Choosing to eat in secret or skipping meals altogether.

  • Developing new and unusual habits around food; for example, will only eat off of a certain plate or asks for food to be laid out in a certain way before eating.

  • Weighing themselves regularly and becoming obsessed with their body weight and image.

2. Physical signs

Most eating disorders start to show physical symptoms over time, but the signs will vary depending on the eating disorder. For example, the physical signs of anorexia nervosa tend to become apparent fairly quickly. You may notice that your child has lost an extreme amount of weight in a short amount of time. Other common physical effects of anorexia include fatigue, dizziness, hair thinning, soft downy hair over the body, and loss of periods in females. These symptoms are associated with the starvation caused by the sufferer severely restricting their food intake. Eating disorders like anorexia are extremely dangerous and can cause death if left

untreated. If you believe that your child has an eating disorder, you must get them the specialist help they need. Fortunately, there is an excellent variety of treatment centers that can support your child’s recovery. For instance, Eden Treatment provides a diverse range of therapies and treatment plans to help children recover from various eating disorders.

3. Emotional signs

Along with the physical signs, an eating disorder can have a significant impact on a child’s mental health and wellbeing. You may notice that your child becomes withdrawn and stops going to social activities and events. Some other emotional signs of an eating disorder include becoming stressed or anxious at mealtimes, having panic attacks, or displaying extreme mood swings and bursts of anger.


Eating disorders can have serious and lasting consequences on a child’s physical and mental health. If you notice that your child is displaying signs of an eating disorder, you should act quickly and discuss your concerns. Try to be as understanding and empathetic as possible and never blame yourself for your child’s eating disorder. Finding out that your child has an eating disorder can be extremely distressing, but remember that there is a fantastic variety of specialist support available to help them recover.


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