Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder affecting 1 in 10 young people. It peaks in girls aged 15 – 19 years, and may develop as early as 9 years of age. 1 in 10 young people from this group are boys. It is a serious mental health condition characterised by very low body weight. In anorexia nervosa food is deliberately restricted by refusing to eat enough and
- selecting very low calorie foods
- avoiding specific foods/food groups
- vomiting stomach contents after eating
- excessive use of laxatives
- rigorous exercise routine
Sufferers typically have a distorted view of their body image. They may consider themselves as overweight even when they are underweight. They often have low self-esteem or may need treatment for depression or OCD. If it occurs before puberty, it may lead to stunted growth and poor bone mineralisation. In teenage girls, periods may reduce, stop or may never started. This leads to disturbances in oestrogen levels posing a further risk to bone health. Other long-term risks for teenage girls include difficulties conceiving and possible infertility if the eating disorder is prolonged and severe.
Ask yourself these questions, and talk to someone if you answer yes to two or more
- Are you pre-occupied with your body weight and/or food
- Do you lie about whether you have eaten or what you have eaten
- Excessive counting of calories
- Avoiding eating with other people
- Restrict what you eat deliberately
In my teenage nutrition clinic I offer a specific dietary assessment for young people who are at risk of developing a more serious eating disorder. Please do contact me should you wish to discuss how I can help.