Teens & Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are real and serious illnesses. Approximately 3 percent of teens, both male and female, have an eating disorder. The two most common disorders are anorexia and bulimia.
Anorexia usually begins around the start of puberty and involves extreme weight loss (at least 15 percent of body weight) and includes a distorted perception of their body as "fat."
Bulimia (or binging and purging) involves eating and then vomiting or using laxatives to get rid of the food. Both disorders are very complicated, have serious medical consequences, and require expert treatment for recovery.
How do you know if your teen has an eating disorder?
Here are the warning signs:
- Skipping meals
- Avoiding situations where food may be present
- Not being social/isolating self
- Excessive exercise
- Very low or no fat diet
- Eliminating certain foods or food groups
- Always calculating fat grams and calories eaten
- Taking laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills
- Using supplements and protein powders
- Vomiting/frequent bathroom visits after eating
- Rapid changes in weight or behavior
- Unhealthy: pale, wan, drawn
- Weighing self often
- Amenorrhea (periods stop)
- Unable to walk
- Throwing up several times a day
Disclaimer: This content is the opinion of the author(s) and not necessarily that of your health care provider, the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, or Sutter Health.
This information is provided for your general information and education only, and should not be relied upon for personal diagnosis or treatment.
If you feel like you have an illness or need emotional support for a problem, please contact your personal physician NOW.
Back to top
Written & Reviewed By:
PAMF Senior Research Associate
Nancy Brown, Ph.D., M.A., Ed.S.
Last Reviewed: October 2013
Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders: Hotline, Counseling & Referrals, (847) 831-3438.
National Eating Disorders Association Information on eating disorders and referrals for treatment.
Overeaters Anonymous: Find a local group.
For More Information:
See our Eating Disorder Dangers article.