Eating disorders are a huge problem in young generation. They are caused by a variety of factors and not always can be diagnosed and treated on time. In fact, eating disorders make children as young as nine struggle, but parents cannot assess the symptoms. A new study from Newcastle University found that these children, showing more symptoms at the age of nine, show even more symptoms at the age of 12.
It means that the illness is progressing even at a very young age and can eventually become a life-threatening condition. Results of this research underline the importance of early diagnosis and how it can help save many lives. In fact, scientists say that eating disorders must be treated as early as possible so that they would not develop into something extremely dangerous and would not interfere with healthy development of the child. This research took around six years to complete and identified three areas crucial for early identification of youngsters at risk of the mental health problem.
These factors are: boys and girls with body dissatisfaction, girls with depressive symptoms, and boys and girls who have had symptoms at an earlier stage. It may seem obvious, but there were countless researches before that only looked at some symptoms and not at their progression, which did not uncover the full picture of the illness. This research revealed that having a bigger number of symptoms at early age means that there is a high risk that there will be even more symptoms later. Therefore, these symptoms should not be overlooked like something the child will simply grow out of.
Why people do not know about eating disorders at such an early age? It is because they are incredibly rare – the most common age of the hospitalization is 15. Having some of the symptoms rarely means that the child will develop the condition. Symptoms adults should be looking for are rigid dieting, binge-eating, making oneself sick after eating, and high levels of anxiety about weight. Dr Elizabeth Evans, leader of the study, said: “Future studies we do will investigate if our findings with young adolescents hold true for older adolescents, or whether we detect new risk factors. Both possibilities will further inform our efforts to promote and target early prevention for eating disorders”.
Eating disorders at an early stage of development are usually not taken seriously. And that is a big problem. Parents should pay more attention to early symptoms so that life-threatening health problems could be avoided.