Obese teenagers who lose weight at risk for developing eating disorders

Obese teenagers who lose weight are at risk of developing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, Mayo Clinic researchers imply in a recent Pediatrics article. Eating disorders among these patients are also not being adequately detected because the weight loss is seen as positive by providers and family members.

In the article, Mayo Clinic researchers argue that formerly overweight tend to have more from and it takes longer to diagnose them than kids who are in a normal weight range. This is problematic because early intervention is the key to a good prognosis, says Leslie Sim, Ph.D., an eating disorders expert in the Mayo Clinic Children's Center and lead author of the study.

Although not widely known, individuals with a weight history in the overweight (BMI-for-age greater than or equal to the 85th percentile but less than the 95th percentile, as defined by CDC growth chart) or obese (BMI-for-age greater than or equal to the 95th percentile, as defined by the CDC growth chart) range, represent a substantial portion of adolescents presenting for eating disorder treatment, says Dr. Sim.

"Given research that suggests promotes best chance of recovery, it is imperative that these children and adolescents' eating disorder symptoms are identified and intervention is offered before the disease progresses," says Dr. Sim.

This report analyzes two examples of eating disorders that developed in the process of obese adolescents' efforts to reduce their weight. Both cases illustrate specific challenges in the identification of eating disorder behaviors in adolescents with this weight history and the corresponding delay such teenagers experience accessing appropriate treatment.

At least 6 percent of adolescents suffer from eating disorders, and more than 55 percent of high school females and 30 percent of males report disordered eating symptoms including engaging in one or more maladaptive behaviors (fasting, diet pills, vomiting, laxatives, binge eating) to induce weight loss.

Eating disorders are associated with high relapse rates and significant impairment to daily life, along with a host of medical side effects that can be life-threatening, says Dr. Sim.

The article is published online September 9 in the journal Pediatrics.


Explore further

Conversations with teens about weight linked with increased risk of unhealthy eating behaviors

More information: Sim, L., Lebow, J. and Billings, M. Pediatrics, September 9, 2013.
Journal information: Pediatrics

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Citation: Obese teenagers who lose weight at risk for developing eating disorders (2013, September 6) retrieved 22 September 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-09-obese-teenagers-weight-disorders.html
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Sep 07, 2013
Studies show that dieting, even that considered "naturalistic", among young people lead to weight cycling [Naturalistic weight reduction efforts predicted weight gain and onset of obesity in adolescent girls; http://ebn.bmj.co.../88.full]

There is an evidence-based compassionate alternative to conventional dieting: Health At Every Size®. Please consider this alternative prior to making a decision that may result in weight cycling.

For more information on Health At Every Size, you can find a general explanation on Wikipedia (http://en.wikiped...ry_Size) or find in-depth research-based information in the book Health At Every Size - The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Dr. Linda Bacon (http://www.lindab...Sbook/).

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