The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging pediatric physicians to screen preteens and adolescents for eating disorders during regular check-ups as trends surrounding these disorders evolve. One of many motivating factors for the AAP’s caution to physicians is the most recent federal analysis of eating disorder patients; the analysis found that hospitalizations for eating disorders have increased most sharply (119%) among children under the age of 12 (1999 to 2006). Additionally, the AAP noted a sharp increase in the amount of boys and minorities the disorders affect. These findings paint a new face on the disorders that, at inexpert glace, have been believed to only affect affluent young white women.
The AAP also mentioned that federal efforts to lessen adolescent obesity may have inadvertently contributed to the changes in eating disorder patient demographics. “When counseling families on preventing obesity, pediatricians should focus on healthy eating and building self-esteem while still addressing weight concerns,” they wrote. “Care needs to be taken not to inadvertently enable excessive dieting, compulsive exercise, or other potentially unhealthy weight-management strategies.” Click here to read an article from Medpage Today that discusses the AAP’s caution to pediatric physicians more.