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March 17, 2015

Drexel study: Heavier kids may be more susceptible to eating disorders

Health News Children's Health

Is your child not eating well? Is she trying to be as thin as possible?

New research out of Drexel University suggests heavier children may be more susceptible to developing an eating disorder later in life.

The research, conducted by Michael Lowe, a Drexel psychologist and specialist at the Renfrew Center, and reported by NewsWorksfound that girls who go on to become anorexic weigh about 11 pounds more than their classmates in elementary school, while bulimics are on average 15 to 20 pounds heavier than their peers as teens.

In other words, today's epidemic of obesity among children means there may be an increase in eating disorders in coming years.

The research also points out a Catch-22 of preventing eating disorders: 

Should observers draw attention to the weight gain or not? There is a fine line between gentle encouragement to shed a few pounds and the stigma that might lead a young woman to take drastic and unhealthy measures.

Advice for parents of children at risk of developing an eating disorder:

Lowe advises that rather than focusing on weight, parents should emphasize healthy eating and exercise as early as possible.

The National Eating Disorders Association also offers an online toolkit for parents that highlights signs and symptoms of eating disorders, information on treatment options and reading materials to help parents understand the diseases. 

Read the entire NewsWorks article here.

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