Childhood Eating Disorder Symptoms

(Also Known As: Children's Eating Disorder Symptoms, Eating Disorder Symptoms, Bulimia Symptoms, Anorexia Symptoms, Binge Eating Symptoms)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What are the Symptoms of Childhood Eating Disorder?

Childhood eating disorders affects both girls and boys, but anorexia is more common with teenage girls. Anorexia is manifested even as early as age four. When a child was diagnosed with anorexia, he/she will have an increased desire to become slimmer and they will do anything to starve for food or will suffer from binging and purging to remove the food they eat. They might also do extreme exercises to burn large calories they take in. And once they have done the purging process to lose some weight, they still see themselves as fat but truthfully, they are not. However, young individuals with bulimia are somehow the same with anorexia as they are overly worried about their weight.

The condition has a bad effect on the body especially hair and nails. It will become weak, brittle and thin as well as a skinny body shape appearance. Other effects will be drying of the skin, abnormal menstruation to menstrual stop, fatigue, tooth decay, blood pressure that will go down, and the organs are also much affected which may lead to other diseases or illnesses. But what is more terrible, it could lead to death if this condition will be neglected and not treated properly.

Some other symptoms of childhood eating disorders are as follows:

  • Poor weight gain or actual weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Excessive crying
  • Irritability
  • Apathy

Psychiatrist and other mental health professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR, American Psychiatric Association, 2000) as their guide to assess or diagnose an individual if he/she has mental concerns. Here are the criteria for diagnosing eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa:

  • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height (e.g., weight loss leading to maintenance of body weight less than 85% of that expected; or failure to make expected weight gain during period of growth, leading to body weight less than 85% of that expected).
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming obese.
  • Disturbance in the way in which one's body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.
  • The absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles (amenorrhea), in women who have had their first menstrual period but have not yet gone through menopause (postmenarcheal, premenopausal females).
  • Two Subtypes are specified:
    • Restricting Type: during the current episode of anorexia nervosa, the person has not regularly engaged in binge-eating or purging behavior (that is, self-induced vomiting, over-exercise or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas)
    • Binge-Eating Type or Purging Type: during the current episode of anorexia nervosa, the person has regularly engaged in binge-eating OR purging behavior (that is, self-induced vomiting, over-exercise or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas).

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
    • Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.
    • A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise.
  • The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least twice a week for 3 months.
  • Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
  • The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of Anorexia Nervosa".

Could You Have Childhood Eating Disorder?

Childhood Eating Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Anorexia Nervosa – Starvation, Over-Exercise, Laxatives, Diuretics, Warped Body Image
Bulimia Nervosa – binge eating, purging, fasting, excessive eating, uncontrolled eating