Teenage eating disorders you should never ignore

Bulimia, anorexia & binge eating – the three teenage eating disorders you should never ignore. Here are their respective tell-tale signs.

The number of people with eating disorders is on the rise. According to The Straits Times, Singapore General Hospital (SGH) – the only local outfit with an exclusive eating disorder programme – said cases have risen from 130 in 2011 to 160 in 2012, before hitting 180 a year later.

Those in their teenage years are particularly susceptible, as they often feel stressed and are easily influenced by their peers. Dr Lee Huei Yen, director of SGH’s Eating Disorder Programme put it aptly in a Mind Your Body piece.

“It is a time when they are discovering their self-identity, independence, establishing friendships (with both the same and opposite sex) and, at the same time, adapting to major changes in their bodies,” the senior consultant at the hospital’s psychiatry department said.

We list three common teenage disorders and their respective tell-tale signs:

Teenage eating disorders you should never ignore

Credit: [Daniela Brown Photography] via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

1) Bulimia

Tell-tale sign: Extreme swings between overeating and fasting

Bulimia Nervosa is indicated by binge eating that is followed by purging.  Bulimic individuals overeat on compulsion, before forcing themselves to get rid of the calories.

This purging does not have to be physically induced – even though it is common to turn to forced vomiting, laxatives or enemas. One could also demonstrate an obsessive desire to lose weight by fasting or taking on extreme exercise regimes.

Dangers of bulimia include dehydration, low blood pressure and inflammation and tears in the esophagus.

2) Anorexia

Tell-tale sign: Severely underweight, with an intense fear of putting on the pounds

Anorexia Nervosa comes with a distorted body image. Individuals with anorexia have an intense fear of gaining weight, despite being severely underweight by health guidelines. They are likely to have an obsession with restricting their intake of food, especially those with fat or sugar. Exercising too much could also be a signal.

People with anorexia could run the risk of having nutritional deficiencies. They may also suffer from depression as they are overly critical of their appearance.

Teenage eating disorders you should never ignore

Credit: Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

3) Binge Eating Disorder

Tell-tale sign: Guilt due to frequent extreme overeating; no follow-up measures

Individuals with Binge Eating Disorder feel out of control when consuming large amounts of food. They often do so in secret as they feel a sense of shame at the habit. Individuals usually feel a lack of control during the activity, sometimes eating when they are not hungry or to the point where they feel discomfort.

Binge eating causes weight gain, making individuals are more susceptible to diseases like hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

Know anyone who may be suffering from these disorders? Help is just around the corner. Sites like Made Real SG, a social initiative to help youths confront an unhealthy obsession with body image aims to help individuals through personal accounts.

A visit to the local doctor may also reap tailored advice for an individual’s experience with eating disorders.

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