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Anorexia Nervosa Is Affecting Our 7-Year Olds

Anorexia Nervosa Affecting Our 7-Year OldsI worry about raising daughters with healthy self-confidence and self-esteem. I worry about pressures from the media and society and consistently have discussions about what makes someone beautiful — going far beyond the outside.

I want my girls to have a healthy relationship with food. It’s been a little bit of a struggle with Raru, my oldest daughter lately. She’s got celiac disease and has held on to some fears about food and the way that it might hurt after she eats. There are days where she won’t eat anything but peanut butter and there are days where it seems she doesn’t eat anything at all.

It’s something I hope she will “grow out of” soon and will be on her way to healthy eating habits when she hits the teenage years.

Anorexia nervosa is on the back of my mind when I talk to my children about food and body image. According to statistics by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, one in 200 American women suffers from anorexia and 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.  I understand that anorexia is not likely triggered by media or pressure and those who suffer from this disease, it’s certainly not a choice to them, but I worry about how young it seems to strike.

A story just published by ABC News claims that anorexia can strike earlier than we thought. It concerns 7-year-old Sophie, who has been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. According to the story, Sophie complained of being dizzy, having “itchy skin” and constipation and she later confessed that she had been throwing out the food that she brought to school.

Sophie confessed one night that a voice inside her head was telling her not to eat, which prompted her mom to seek treatment after she hadn’t gained a pound for 10 months and had dropped from the 60th to the 19th percentile on the weight charts.

According to Dr. Julie O’Toole, pediatrician and founder/medical director of the Kartini Clinic, “In the classic adult form, they are afraid of getting fat and believe themselves to be fat and quit eating on that basis,” she said. “But there are some children 10 and under who refuse to eat and can’t tell you why. And it’s not kids who never did eat much or picky eaters — that’s a whole different field.”

Photo credit: adapted from iStockPhoto
Source:  Anorexia Nervosa Can Strike and Kill as Early as Kindgergarten;ABC News

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