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Docs Should Screen Younger Patients For Eating Disorders

j0292026_2f597000A report published today in Pediatrics warns primary care physicians to watch for an increase in eating disorders, particularly in younger patients.

“Increases in the incidence and prevalence of anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and other eating disorders in children and adolescents make it critically important that pediatricians be familiar with early detection and appropriate management of these disorders…

The epidemiology of eating disorders has gradually changed; there is an increasing prevalence of eating disorders in males and (minorities). Of particular concern is the increasing prevalence of eating disorders at progressively younger ages. A recent analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality revealed that from 1999 to 2006, hospitalizations for eating disorders increased most sharply—119%—for children younger than 12 years.

It is estimated that approximately 0.5% of adolescent girls in the United States have AN, that approximately 1% to 2% meet diagnostic criteria for BN, and that up to 5% to 10% of all cases of eating disorders occur in males.”

The report offers suggested guidelines to pediatricians including: Become more knowledgeable about risk factors and early signs of eating disorders; When counseling patient families, focus on healthy eating and building self-esteem; Calculate and plot weight, height and BMI at annual exams.  More guidelines and details are available in the full article.

One comment

  1. Anorexia nervosa (AN), characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, an obsessive fear of gaining weight, and an unrealistic perception of current body weight. However, some patients can suffer from anorexia nervosa unconsciously. These patients are classified under “atypical eating disorders”. Anorexia can cause menstruation to stop, and often leads to bone loss, loss of skin integrity, etc. It greatly stresses the heart, increasing the risk of heart attacks and related heart problems. The risk of death is greatly increased in individuals with this disease.”

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