Anorexia and Bulimia

Many people are concerned about their weight. But for some people, concern becomes obsession, a way to “cope” with other problems. Eating disorders are serious, even life-threatening health problems.

Anorexia is characterized by starvation to the point of losing at least 15 percent of ideal body weight in older children. In younger children, diagnosis is based on the growth curve. Anorexia may appear as the child enters adolescence. The family of the anorexic may place a high value on conformity, achievement and appearance. Dieting may become the way the child takes control over her life.

Watch for these symptoms of anorexia:

Bulimia is characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating, followed by a purge using laxatives, diuretics, exercise, fasting or self-induced vomiting. Although weight loss tends to be less severe than with anorexia, bulimia can lead to severe dental, digestive and cardiac problems.

Usually female, bulimics focus on body and weight in order to cope with deeper emotional conflicts and pressures. Binge eating and purging often occur when the bulimic is stressed, depressed, frustrated or angry.

Watch for these symptoms:

If you suspect that your child has an eating disorder, discuss your concerns with your pediatrician or family doctor. Or call the intake coordinator for the Eating Disorders Program at Akron Children’s Hospital at 330-543-8593.

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