22nd February 2023 – More than 1 in 5 children worldwide are at risk of developing an eating disorder such as bulimia, anorexia or binge eating, new analysis suggests.
of study Featured in this month’s magazine JAMA PediatricsResearchers analyzed data from 63,181 adolescents aged 6 to 18 in 16 countries looking for so-called ‘eating disorders’. Children included in this study were not diagnosed with any physical or mental disorders and data during the COVID-19 period were not included.
Researchers examined results from a widely used standardized eating disorder questionnaire called the Sick, Control, One, Fat, Food (SCOFF). If someone answers “yes” to two or more questions, the person is considered to have an eating disorder, “indicating suspicion of a pre-existing eating disorder,” the researchers wrote. is as follows:
- Do you feel sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
- Worried that you’ve lost control over how much you eat?
- Have you lost 14 pounds or more in the last 3 months?
- If someone told you that you were too thin, would you consider yourself fat?
- Do you think food rules your life?
Overall, 22% of children answered yes to two or more questions. The proportion of children with eating disorders is likely even higher, researchers explain. This is because children may hide symptoms “because of feelings of embarrassment or stigma.”
The findings are a dramatic shift from the following estimates. 2.7% Eight people between the ages of 13 and 18 experience an eating disorder during adolescence.
In this latest study, eating disorders were more common among girls, older children, and those with a higher BMI (Body Mass Index), a measure that combines height and weight.
Analysis showed that 30% of girls had an eating disorder compared to 17% of boys. Looking at responses by age, the percentage of children with eating disorders increased by 20% between the ages of 10 and her 18.
Findings about children who already have a high BMI corroborate previous research showing that many of these children, while trying to lose weight, already have abnormal eating behaviors, the authors write. .
“Although most adolescents who develop an eating disorder have not previously reported overweight problems, some adolescents misunderstand what a healthy diet consists of, leading to unhealthy behaviors. (e.g., skipping meals to create a calorie deficit) is an eating disorder,” the researchers explained.
This study points to the need for parents, caregivers, and health care professionals to pay attention to symptoms of eating disorders in children as they are associated with the risk of developing clinical eating disorders. Symptoms to look out for include behaviors such as weight loss dieting, binge eating, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, and use of laxatives and diuretics, write the researchers.
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