Body Image/Eating Disorders

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Maintaining a healthy body image during adolescence is often difficult for teens. Factors that might harm a teen’s body image include:

  • Natural weight gain and other changes caused by puberty
  • Peer pressure to look a certain way
  • Media images that promote the ideal body as thin
  • Having parents who are overly concerned about their own weight or appearance

If your teen doesn’t live up to their ideal body image, they might begin to feel inadequate and ashamed of their body — even if they’re not overweight. This can increase the risk of mental health concerns, including:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders

Sometimes a negative body image leads to skipping meals or a cycle of dieting, losing weight and regaining weight — which can further harm self-esteem

Eating disorders are a group of serious conditions in which you’re so preoccupied with food and weight that you can often focus on little else. The main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

Eating disorders can cause serious physical problems and, at their most severe, can even be life-threatening. Most people with eating disorders are females, but males can also have eating disorders. An exception is binge-eating disorder, which appears to affect almost as many males as females.

The exact cause of eating disorders — such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder — is unknown. However, various factors might put teens at risk of developing eating disorders.

For example:

  • Societal pressure. Modern Western culture tends to place a premium on being physically attractive and having a slim body. Even with a normal body weight, teens can easily develop the perception that they’re fat. This can trigger an obsession with losing weight, dieting and being thin — especially for teen girls.
  • Low self-esteem. Teens who have low self-esteem might use their eating habits or weight loss to achieve a sense of stability or control.
  • Favorite activities. Participation in activities that value leanness — such as wrestling, running and ballet — can increase the risk of teen eating disorders.
  • Personal factors. Genetics or biological factors might make some teens more likely to develop eating disorders. Personality traits such as perfectionism, anxiety or rigidity might also play a role.

Treatments for eating disorders usually involve psychotherapy, nutrition education, family counseling, medications and hospitalization.

 

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Link to the Mayo Clinic site

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