by Kathleen Mammel, M.D., director of Adolescent Medicine, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak; medical director of the Hough Center for Eating Disorders at Beaumont Children’s Hospital
Eating disorders are serious biologic, psychological and developmental illnesses with life-threatening physical and psychological complications regardless of an individual’s weight.
- Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.
- Eating disorders affect males and females of every size, as well as all ethnicities and all levels of wealth and education.
- Even people of average weight can have eating disorders. Even people who are overweight can be improperly nourished or engage in unhealthy weight control practices, such as restrictive dieting, purging, use of diet pills or binge eating
- Eating disorders don’t always start with dieting or other behaviors aimed at weight loss. Medical illness or psychological symptoms can interfere with nutrition and simultaneously disrupt brain chemistry leading to an eating disorder.
- An eating disorder should be considered as the possible cause of significant weight loss in any otherwise healthy individual.
- Exercising to the extreme, or even in the face of illness or injury or bad weather, should prompt the consideration of an eating disorder.
- Eating disorders can cause complications in every system of the body, including cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, musculoskeletal, reproductive and hematological systems.
- Low heart rates may represent underfueling for activity level rather than a ‘well-conditioned heart’ in some athletes, especially adolescents and growing children.
- Besides weight loss, failure to gain weight or grow taller or go through puberty during the adolescent years may be signs of an eating disorder and should always be investigated.
- While there are many signs and physical effects of eating disorders, they often go unrecognized, even by experienced health care providers.
Beaumont’s Hough Center for Eating Disorders provides outpatient services, inpatient medical care and now offers the BRIDGE Program partial hospitalization (day treatment) and intensive outpatient treatment for teens.
February 24 – March 2 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
A report by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed a sharp rise in eating disorders among children and teens. This week we’re offering two presentations (tonight for teens and Wednesday for adults/families) by our eating disorder experts: http://bmntsys.tm/YwbQxd