Children and adolescents with eating disorders clinically distinct

January 13, 2014 by Rebecca Graham, Science Network WA
Children and adolescents with eating disorders clinically distinct
“Children were less likely to binge eat, purge, or exercise for shape and weight control compared to adolescents,” Dr Watson says. Credit: Bread For The World

NEW paediatric research suggests that children and adolescents with eating disorders display significant differences in clinical presentation, lending further support to research which has found eating disorders differ across age groups.

The researchers including Princess Margaret Hospital for Children Eating Disorders Program (PMH EDP) Senior Research Psychologist Dr Hunna Watson were interested in determining whether differences in physical, behavioural and clinical features existed between children and referred to the program.

They utilised data collected in the HOPE (Helping to Outline Paediatric Eating Disorders) Project, an ongoing paediatric clinical eating disorder registry comprising patients admitted to the PMH EDP from 1996.

Data from the registry on 656 – 104 children (<13 years) and 552 adolescents (13-17 years) – who met the DSM-V criteria for an eating disorder, was included in the study.

Diagnosis was obtained through the Eating Disorder Examination, which measures behavioural symptoms (binge-eating, purging and excessive exercise) and cognitive symptoms (restraint, weight and shape concern).

The diagnosis also involved a medical review of physical/clinical features (expected and actual BMI scores and percentage and rate of body weight lost).

Of the 104 children in the study, 41.3 per cent were diagnosed with Anorexia nervosa (AN), 1.9 per cent with Bulimia nervosa (BN) and 56.7 per cent with Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

For the 552 adolescents, 38 per cent were diagnosed with AN, 10.3 per cent with BN and 51.6 per cent with EDNOS.

Results indicated significant distinctions between the two groups.

Dr Watson says eating disorders in males were more common during childhood than adolescence.

"Children were less likely to binge eat, purge, or exercise for shape and weight control compared to adolescents," Dr Watson says.

"Children also lost weight at a faster rate than adolescents.

"Adolescents were more likely to present with BN and report binge eating, self-induced vomiting, and laxative misuse."

The researchers did not find any differences in mean BMI scores or percentage of body weight lost between the two groups.

However, the data revealed both and adolescents were equally susceptible to malnutrition complications such as bradycardia and hypotension, which are common among young people with .

"Eating disorders have severe and debilitating physical manifestations, with risk of multi-organ failure, and hospitalisation is commonly warranted," Dr Watson says.

Dr Watson says it is important that health practitioners and caregivers are aware of the differences across and the need to develop age-appropriate assessments and treatments.

Explore further: Parent–child eating disorder perceptions investigated

Related Stories

Parent–child eating disorder perceptions investigated

December 11, 2013
Perth eating disorder specialists have uncovered a wide disparity in the reporting of eating disorder symptoms between parents and their children.

Obese teenagers who lose weight at risk for developing eating disorders

September 6, 2013
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 ...

Eating disorders often associated with reproductive health problems

October 8, 2013
Women with eating disorders are less likely to have children than others in the same age group, indicates a study conducted at the University of Helsinki, Finland. The likelihood for miscarriage was more than triple for binge-eating ...

Parents play a role in teen eating disorders, study finds

October 4, 2013
The ways parents or caregivers interact with children around mealtimes can have unintended consequences, according to a new report in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The study found that teenagers' negative attitudes toward ...

Experts urge BMI method for calculating weight in kids with eating disorders

January 4, 2012
An exact determination of expected body weight for adolescents based on age, height and gender is critical for diagnosis and management of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. However, there are no clear ...

Recommended for you

Teens get more sleep with later school start time, researchers find

December 12, 2018
When Seattle Public Schools announced that it would reorganize school start times across the district for the fall of 2016, the massive undertaking took more than a year to deploy. Elementary schools started earlier, while ...

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds

December 12, 2018
A new multi-country study finds that large, high-calorie portion sizes in fast food and full service restaurants is not a problem unique to the United States. An international team of researchers found that 94 percent of ...

Receiving genetic information can change risk

December 11, 2018
Millions of people in the United States alone have submitted their DNA for analysis and received information that not only predicts their risk for disease but, it turns out, in some cases might also have influenced that risk, ...

Yes please to yoghurt and cheese: The new improved Mediterranean diet

December 11, 2018
Thousands of Australians can take heart as new research from the University of South Australia shows a dairy-enhanced Mediterranean diet will significantly increase health outcomes for those at risk of cardiovascular disease ...

Effect of oral alfacalcidol on clinical outcomes in patients without secondary hyperparathyroidism

December 11, 2018
Treatment with active vitamin D did not decrease cardiovascular events in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis, according to a research group in Japan. They have reported their research results in the December 11 issue ...

Licence to Swill: James Bond's drinking over six decades

December 10, 2018
He may be licensed to kill but fictional British secret service agent James Bond has a severe alcohol use disorder, according to an analysis of his drinking behaviour published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.