Teen Eating Disorders
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Could You or Someone You Know Have an Eating Disorder?

In a culture where thinness is too often equated with physical attractiveness, success, and happiness, eating disorder treament centernearly everyone has dealt with issues regarding the effect their weight and body shape can have on their self-image. However, eating disorders are not about dieting or vanity; they're complex psychological disorders in which an individual's eating patterns are developed--and then habitually maintained--in an attempt to cope with other problems in their life.

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Teen Eating Disorders Require Medical Attention

For reasons that are unclear, some people--mainly young women--develop potentially life-threatening eating disorders called bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. People with bulimia, known as bulimics, indulge in bingeing (episodes of eating large amounts of food) and purging (getting rid of the food by vomiting or using laxatives). People with anorexia, whom doctors sometimes call anorectics, severely limit their food intake. About half of them also have bulimia symptoms.

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The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that about 9,000 people admitted to hospitals were diagnosed with bulimia in 1994, the latest year for which statistics are available, and about 8,000 were diagnosed with anorexia. Studies indicate that by their first year of college, 4.5 to 18 percent of women and 0.4 percent of men have a history of bulimia and that as many as 1 in 100 females between the ages of 12 and 18 have anorexia.

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Eating Disorder Treatments

Eating disorders can be treated and a healthy weight restored. The sooner these disorders are diagnosed and treated, the better the outcomes are likely to be. Because of their complexity, eating disorders require a comprehensive treatment plan involving medical care and monitoring, psychosocial interventions, nutritional counseling and, when appropriate, medication management. At the time of diagnosis, the clinician must determine whether the person is in immediate danger and requires hospitalization.

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