Anorexia nervosa is typically seen as a disorder that affects adults and adolescents, and as a result most of the top eating disorder treatment centers focus on treating patients who are in their teens or older. At the same time, much of the focus on children's health in recent years has been on the obesity epidemic, with one out of every five kids suffering from the disease.
These two issues have neglected those under the age of 11 who are suffering from anorexia, which can affect even young children. What makes this condition so difficult to diagnose in children is that youngsters often don't have the vocabulary or cultural awareness to articulate their condition. Often, parents will blame their behavior on picky eating rather than a severe mental illness.
This topic was the subject of a recent story by ABC News, which profiled the struggles of Reagan Freeman, a 10-year-old who stopped eating and began over-exercising after her family moved. It took months for Freeman's family to find a specialist who would actually treat her condition, as many centers stated they only accepted patients starting at age 11.
Eventually, Freeman's parents were able to send her to an inpatient facility in Colorado, and to this day they are still working towards her recovery.
Although not all children who are picky eaters have an eating disorder, there is still some risk that they could develop one if their consumption habits seem to be governed by more than just preference. At Fairwinds Treatment Center, we have the resources and expertise to identify whether your child is suffering from an eating disorder and determine the root causes of their illness. Our eating disorder treatment programs, which are led by Dr. Pauline Powers, are designed to produce lasting results using a dual diagnosis approach, which addresses both the eating disorder and its psychological underpinnings.