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Pediatric Childcare & Wellness

Our blog featuring Dr. McKillip and Shelly Nalbone. Email topic requests to shellynp@totdoc.com

Eating Disorders and Teens

Posted by Shelly
Shelly
Shelly Nalbone is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has worked with children fo
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on Monday, September 12 2011 in Teen Info

Weight obsession affects millions of teenagers today, especially girls. This obsession can lead to eating disorders. Eating disorders are more than just going on a diet to lose weight or trying to exercise every day. They're extremes in eating behavior — the diet that never ends and gradually gets more restrictive. Or the person who can't go out with friends because he or she thinks it's more important to go running to work off a snack eaten earlier.

Eating disorders are so common in America that 1 or 2 out of every 100 students will struggle with one. Each year, thousands of teens develop eating disorders, or problems with weight, eating, or body image. The most common eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. But other food-related disorders, like binge eating, body image disorders, and food phobias, are becoming more and more common.

Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are psychological disorders that involve extreme disturbances in eating behavior. A teen with anorexia refuses to maintain a normal body weight. Someone with bulimia has repeated episodes of binge eating followed by compulsive behaviors such as vomiting or the use of laxatives to remove the food.

Symptoms of eating disorders may include the following:

A distorted body image (the teen is thin, but thinks they still need to lose weight)

Dramatic weight loss/intense fear of weight gain

Skipping most meals or unusual eating habits

Frequent weighing

Insomnia

Constipation

Skin rash or dry skin/loss of hair or nail quality

Dental cavities/erosion of tooth enamel

Slow heart rate/low blood pressure/low body temp

Hyperactivity and high interest in exercise

Withdrawal from friends & activities

Growth of lanugo (soft furry hair on face, back & arms)

Amenorrhea (menstrual period stops)

Teens with eating disorders are often in denial that anything is wrong. They may be moody, anxious, depressed. They may withdraw from friends, and become overly sensitive to criticism. The problem arises when parents are not aware of these symptoms because the teen keeps them hidden -- just like the trauma, insecurities, depression, or low self-esteem that may help trigger the disorder.

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Shelly Nalbone is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has worked with children for more than 17yrs. She graduated from Houston Baptist University in 1993 with her Bachelors Degree in Nursing and completed her Masters Degree at Texas Woman's University in 1999. Shelly completed a Post Masters Fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. She has spoken nationally on pediatric and adolescent health care topics and was a contributing author for a pediatric nursing textbook. Shelly is Associate Clinical Faculty for The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and LoneStar College Nursing programs. She lives in the Champions area with her husband and 2 children.