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  • Samira Sine

Eating disorders have shot up exponentially amongst our youngest citizens, stunning experts.

Pandemic, over-exposure to media and poor eating habits are playing havoc on children.

Research cited by the New York Times recently suggested clinical directors of the eating disorders program at the University of California, San Francisco, “our inpatient unit has exploded in the past year,” taking in more than twice as many adolescent patients as it did before the pandemic. Dr. Accurso said that outpatient services are also seeing record numbers. “Providers aren’t taking new clients, or have wait-lists up to six months.”

What could the reasons be for these rapid increases?

Over-exposure to social media, a lack of exercise, stress and anxiety could be part of the problem.

Other reasons cited by experts is that children have too much extra time, and with a large unvaccinated population under the age of 12, it may add to the problem.

Emotional eating has been linked to a much older population but food is often a coping mechanism when stress levels increase.

Children who have access to screens often find information online, most of it unvetted and some of it downright damaging.

Social media plays a huge role and these companies need to be taken to task.

During the pandemic, teenagers have spent so much time online and while there are benefits, it can lead to comparisons that result in unhealthy behaviors.

Teenagers can find“thinspiration” and “fitspiration” posts celebrating perfect bodies and much more harmful is the fact that algorithms record online search information and send them ads for potentially dangerous diet supplements,

Where to find help:

Talk to your child's doctor first.

Other places which can be helpful include:

The National Eating Disorders Association, or NEDA, supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders.

F.E.A.S.T. is an international nonprofit organization run by caregivers of those suffering from eating disorders, meant to help others.

Maudsley Parents was created by parents who helped their children recover with family-based treatment, to offer hope and help to other families confronting eating disorders.

The Academy for Eating Disorders offers many resources, as do the Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research at University of California, San Diego, and the Eating Disorders Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.


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