Researchers in Canada recently released a study that found eating disorders occur even in very young, pre-adolescent boys and girls. The report also suggests that these young victims' conditions may be caused by underlying psychological issues — the belief on which Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef founded Fairwinds Treatment Center, one of the best eating disorder treatment centers in the nation, 25 years ago.
Dr. El-Yousef and Dr. Pauline Powers, Fairwinds' world-renowned eating disorder expert, have helped countless eating disorder sufferers using our unique dual diagnosis methodology. This treatment method addresses unresolved, often undiagnosed, psychological and mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder — key issues that too many treatment centers fail to acknowledge. Each patient at Fairwinds receives a personalized combination of clinical treatment and therapeutic counseling to promote healing inside and out.
In the Canadian study, scientists tracked 200 children between 8 and 12 years old who exhibited eating problems. None of the subjects had physical ailments — such as diabetes or cystic fibrosis — that could have contributed to their issues with food. More than half (52 percent) had been hospitalized at least once because of concerns related to their eating issues. Fifteen percent reported making themselves throw up occasionally.
"Many researchers believe that bulimia only appears at adolescence, but our studies indicate that the problem can arises much earlier," study author Dominique Meilleur said in a press release. "It is possible that it is currently under-diagnosed due to a lack of awareness and investigation."
Nearly 23 percent of the children said they had been teased or mocked with regard to their appearance, which is consistent with the belief of Dr. El-Yousef and Dr. Powers that trauma, such as bullying, often causes or contributes to eating disorders. Many of the subjects also suffered from anxiety and mood disorders. In all such cases, sufferers must address these internal wounds and challenges or they are unlikely to make a full and lasting recovery.
While disturbing, this new research is an important reminder that eating disorders can strike anyone and at almost any age. While problems like anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating and others might occur more frequently in teenagers and adults, that does not mean that they never surface in prepubescent children. If your child seems overly preoccupied with their appearance, weight or diet, take note. It is important to address burgeoning eating disorders quickly and aggressively with expert treatment.
If you are concerned that your child, teenager or other loved one may have an eating disorder, contact us to learn more about your options. Dr. Powers has helped countless sufferers heal and go on to lead happy, full and well-adjusted lives. Recovery is entirely possible here at Fairwinds Treatment Center in Clearwater, Florida.