There are various types of feeding or eating disorders that affect adolescents. The prevalence rate of eating or feeding disorders depends on the different types and various risk factors. Young people have issues with their body weight and image, thus often suffer from eating disorders because they have a preference for certain food types. Eating or feeding disorders have numerous associated problems that require early treatment as soon as they are diagnosed. There are four types of eating disorders diagnosed among adolescents. Studies have established that various factors cause and predispose adolescents to the various types of eating disorders. These causes belong to three categories, namely biological, environmental and psychological. Eating disorders are treated according to their type and symptoms. Effective treatment requires one to have a plan that will help to monitor the disappearance of various symptoms and their body weight.
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A feeding or eating disorder is defined as a physical, medical or psychological condition in an individual that makes them unable to consume certain types of food (Hornbacher, 2009). They influence an individual’s emotions and behavior towards certain food groups. There are various types of feeding or eating disorders that affect adolescents. Studies have established that the number of young adults suffering from eating disorders has been rising over the last couple of years. The prevalence rate of eating or feeding disorders depends on the different types and various risk factors. This group of people consists of people between the onset of puberty and maturity (Lock & Grange, 2005).
This illness is common among adolescents who diet and have low self esteem due to negative perceptions of their body images. According to experts, young people have issues with their body weight and image, thus often suffer from eating disorders because they have a preference for certain food types. Eating disorders have various causes, risk factors, symptoms, treatment options, and associated myths (Hornbacher, 2009). According to experts, eating or feeding disorders have numerous associated problems that require early treatment as soon as they are diagnosed. Eating disorders that are left untreated have serious consequences. According to nutritionists, people should have regular checkups for any disorders, especially when they start noticing body changes anytime they eat a certain type of food (Hornbacher, 2009). In addition, friends and family members should provide moral support to someone diagnosed with an eating disorder in order to aid their effective recovery.
Types of eating or feeding disorders in adolescents
According to experts, there are four types of eating disorders diagnosed among adolescents, namely anorexia, bulimia, binge and other specified feeding disorder (Lock & Grange, 2005). Anorexia refers to a prolonged disorder of eating due to loss of appetite. This disorder affects adolescents who limit themselves to certain groups of foods for fear of being overweight (Hornbacher, 2009). This disorder is common among adolescents because at this stage people are very conscious about various developments in their body and the impacts they have on their image. Some symptoms of this disorder include skipping of meals, prioritizing of exercise, making up excuses for not eating, watching ones diet, and avoiding eating food they prepare for others. Other notable red flags include obsession with nutrition shows, avoiding certain types of food, checking one’s weight regularly, and drinking a lot of water among others (Hornbacher, 2009).
The second disorder is bulimia. It refers to an eating disorder common among adolescent who engage in excessive eating, which is followed by acts of clearing their bodies from any form of stigma. This disorder is characterized by people eating a lot of food, which is followed by doing too much exercise to avoid gaining weight (Hornbacher, 2009). Symptoms of this disorder include one using the bathroom during or after a meal, eating too much food, regular dieting, secretive disposal of used food wrappers, lack of control over the amount of food to eat and forceful vomiting (Hornbacher, 2009).
The third type of eating disorder is binge. It refers to an eating disorder that involves immoderate indulgence. Unlike in bulimia where victims engage in purging activities, binge eating disorder leads people to having feelings of culpability, despair and self-criticism (Lock & Grange, 2005). According to experts, this disorder is common among adolescents suffering from depression and low self esteem. Symptoms of this disorder include eating even one is not hungry, eating alone, lack of emotional control over food, taking too much food in a single meal, as well as constant complaints from friends and family about ones eating habits. The final category is made up of other specified eating disorders. This category involves a permutation of symptoms of all the other eating disorders (Lock & Grange, 2005). Adolescents suffering from this disorder often experience different phases in their eating habits where they are either obsessed about food or gaining weight.
Causes and risk factors of eating disorders in adolescents
Studies have established that various factors cause and predispose adolescents to the various types of eating disorders. These causes belong to three categories, namely biological, environmental and psychological. However, experts argue that factors under the three categories have not been clearly defined as the main causes of eating disorders (Hornbacher, 2009). There are two biological factors that cause eating disorders in adolescents or predispose them to the illness. The first factor is the genetic history of a family. According to experts, a family that has a history of having any eating disorder puts people in subsequent generations at a higher risk of suffering the same (Grilo & Mitchell, 2012). In addition, the kind of upbringing a family adopts can also lead to someone suffering from any type of eating disorder. The second factor is brain activity. According to experts, the brain produces certain chemical substances that regulate important processes such as digestion, feelings of hunger, and desire for food. Depending on one’s brain activity, an individual can suffer from any of the four categories of eating disorders (Grilo & Mitchell, 2012).
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Psychological factors also cause eating disorders or predispose adolescents to the illness. According to experts, the psychological condition of an adolescent can influence their eating habits, which eventually lead to a disorder (Fairburn, 2008). Some of the psychological factors that cause eating disorders include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, societal values, individual traits, lack of self control, traumatic experiences (Herrin & Larkin, 2013). According to experts, the pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity caused by depression often make people to change their eating habits. Some people start eating too much food, while others tend to reduce the amount of food they take.
Depression also makes adolescents to skip a meal, as they lose their emotional control when around food. Anxiety is another psychological factor that can cause eating disorders in adolescents (Fairburn, 2008). Psychiatrists argue that adolescents often experience cycles of worry and nervousness, which influence their eating habits. Adolescents are also prone to suffering from low self-esteem issues. This is mainly caused by peer pressure for one to achieve perfection (Grilo & Mitchell, 2012). Societal or family values also influence on the eating habits of adolescents. Societies that hold a lot of value on elements such as body size, physical appearance and certain food types influence on the development of eating disorders among adolescents.
Environmental factors also cause eating disorders in adolescents or predispose them to the illness. In this context, the environment refers to the totality of conditions surrounding adolescents (Grilo & Mitchell, 2012). The conditions surrounding adolescents, both at home and schools often affect the kind of foods they will eat. Some of the environmental factors that cause eating disorders include societal values, cultural attitudes, troubled relationships, and nature of activities one engages in among others (Hornbacher, 2009). According to experts, the values that a society places on an individual being thin or fat create an environment that creates bias towards people with certain body types.
Cultural attitudes regarding the ideal physical image of a man or woman also cause eating disorders among adolescents. During adolescence, many people start developing a certain degree of consciousness towards their body image (Fairburn, 2008). Most adolescents aim at meeting or bettering the standards set by a society regarding how someone should look like. This affects their eating habits, which in turn results in the development of a disorder. Troubled relationships can lead to someone suffering from effects such as depression, which often influence on an individual’s eating habits (Hornbacher, 2009). A highly stressful environment can make someone to either consume a lot of food or vice versa. Experts also argue that the kind of activities that adolescents pick out in schools also influence their eating habits. Those who engage in sports, athletics, and dancing are often conscious about staying fit and may avoid eating certain foods (Grilo & Mitchell, 2012). Those who choose to engage in less active engagements have little worry over their eating habits.
Treating eating disorders
According to experts, eating disorders are treated according to their type and symptoms. The best treatment option for eating disorders is therapy, whereby a patient gets to express themselves and learn a few things about nutrition (Herrin & Larkin, 2013). In some instances, patients can receive medication if symptoms of a disorder indicate the possibility of an underlying medical condition responsible for the illness. Studies have established that if certain eating disorders are not treated in time, they can lead to life-threatening complications. Effective treatment requires one to have a plan that will help to monitor the disappearance of various symptoms and their body weight (Herrin & Larkin, 2013). An eating disorder patient should go for regular therapy sessions with a registered dietitian, as well as ensuring they have the support of their family and friends.
Eating disorders are among the common illnesses that affect adolescents across the world. Studies have established that eating disorders are caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors. Experts argue that it is important for an eating disorder to be treated as soon as it is diagnosed, because any delays can lead to life-threatening complications. There are numerous treatment options for eating disorders that patients can take up depending on the symptoms they show. One of the most important elements for achieving effective treatment of eating disorders is ensuring the support of friends and family members. The prevalence rate of eating or feeding disorders depends on the different types and various risk factors.
Fairburn, C.G. (2008). Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Eating Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.
Grilo, C.M., & Mitchell, J.E. (2012). Treatment of Eating Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.
Herrin, M., & Larkin, M. (2013). Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders. California: Routledge.
Hornbacher, M. (2009). Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Lock, J., & Grange, D.L. (2005). Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder. New York: Guilford Press.