Adolescents and Eating Disorders

Children are said to be like “sponges” and can learn (unhealthy) mainstream attitudes towards food and weight at a very young age.
Andrea Roche, RD, LDN- Licensed Dietitian at Behavioral Nutrition

  • In a study of five-year-old girls, a significant proportion of girls associated a diet with food restriction, weight-loss and thinness. (Abramovitz, 2000)
  • According to a 2002 survey in Canada, 28% of girls in the 9th grade and 29% in 10th grade engaged in weight-loss behaviors. (Boyce, 2004)
  • The same researchers found that 37% of girls in the 9th grade and 40% in 10th grade perceived themselves as too fat. Even among students of normal-weight (based on BMI), 19% believed that they were too fat, and 12% of students reported attempting to lose weight. (Boyce, 2008)

Bullying and Eating Disorders

Overweight and obese children are more likely to be bullied than their normal-weight peers

  • In a survey of 11–16 year-olds, 10% of normal-weight children reported being bullied, compared to 15% of overweight and 23% of obese children. Obese girls were 2.7 times more likely than normal weight girls to be verbally bullied on a regular basis and 3.4 times more likely to be excluded from group activities. (Janssen, 2004)
  • Body-based teasing can have a serious impact on girls’ attitudes and behaviors. According to one study, girls who reported teasing by family members were 1.5 times more likely to engage in binge-eating and extreme weight control behaviors five years later. (Neumark-Sztainer, 2007)
  • In a survey of adolescents in grades 7–12, 30% of girls and 25% of boys reported teasing by peers about their weight. Such teasing was reported in the home as well with 29% of girls and 16% of boys claiming to have been teased by a family member about their weight. (Eisenberg, 2003)

For more information on treatment for adolescents with eating disorders or body image issues, please email info@bostonerpconsulting.com or call (617) 595-7044.