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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Eating Disorders and Teens

Eating disorders are real and serious illnesses experienced by approximately 3% of teens, both males and females. The two most common are anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia usually begins around the start of puberty and involves extreme weight loss (at least 15% of body weight) and usually 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.

Warning Signs –(from Alyson Yisrael) reasons to talk to a teen:
• 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)
• Cold/dizzy

• Fainting
• Collapsing
• Unable to walk
• Throwing up several times a day
• Suicidal

For more information, visit:

Palo Alto Medical Foundation
We’re Talking Teen Health"

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Hotline, Counseling and Referrals

Overeaters Anonymous
Find a local group.

Weight Watchers
Find a local group.

National Eating Disorders Association

Information on eating disorders and referrals for treatment.

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.