Teen Eating Disorders

This article helps define different types of teen eating disorders and includes warning signs of teenage eating disoders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorders. Keep reading for tips on preventing teen eating disorders.


Teen eating disorders can result in overweight teens. And this is quite common amongst teen girls. Indeed, 90 percent of those suffering from teen eating disorders are female, reports the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. But this doesn’t mean that teen boys aren’t affected. Indeed, an increasing number of teen boys are being affected by teen eating disorders.

Types of teen eating disorders

There are two main types of teen eating disorders: those that involve overeating compulsively and those that involve not eating enough (or even purging what is eating). Teen eating disorders, no matter what kind they are, can lead to serious health problems.

Anorexia nervosa is a teen eating disorder in which the victim is afraid that she or he is too fat. There is a serious body image issue associated with anorexia nervosa, in that the person really believes that there is a need to lose weight. They may take drastic measures to keep from gaining weight. Teenagers with this eating disorder may look unhealthy because of how thin they are.

Bulimia nervosa is another teen eating disorder in which the victim is afraid of gaining weight. Often, however, those with bulimia appear to be a normal weight, although it may fluctuate often. Teens with bulimia may binge and then purge. This is a process in which they eat a great deal, and then later use laxatives or vomiting to void the body of the caloric intake. Sometimes out of control exercising is used to make up for the overeating.

Binge eating disorder is marked by a compulsive desire to overeat. Stress and other issues may trigger a desire to eat a great deal of food. Binge eating disorder in teens is not occasionally overeating at holidays or on special occasions. It is a specific emotional need to overeat that happens regularly. Often, the binge eating is accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame. However, instead of trying to make up for it as one does with bulimia, one feels hopeless and does not bother to try and get rid of the excess calories.

Signs of a teen eating disorder

It is important to be on the lookout for signs of a teen eating disorder. Teen eating disorders can result in health problems, including heart and lung problems, issues with the liver and bone development problems. Stomach problems can also develop. Additionally, teen eating disorders can lead to psychological problems and even depression and suicide.

Signs of anorexia nervosa:

  • Appears dangerously thin.
  • Concerned with gaining weight.
  • Refuses to eat a healthy amount of calories.
  • Subjects oneself to frequent fasts.
  • Is convinced he or she is fat, despite being thin.
  • Exercises compulsively.

Signs of bulimia nervosa

  • Obsessed with losing weight.
  • May eat a great deal, but does not gain weight (sign of purging).
  • Red knuckle on the forefinger (sign of induced vomiting).
  • Frequently takes laxatives, especially after eating.
  • Exercising compulsively in order to lose weight.
  • Noticeable weight fluctuations.

Signs of binge eating disorder

  • Eats very quickly.
  • Hoards food, sometimes hiding it in odd places.
  • Sometimes eats alone.
  • Shows embarrassment at how much one eats.
  • Rapid weight gain.
  • Eats a lot of food, even if he or she is not hungry.

It is important to recognize these signs of eating disorders and move to get the help needed.

If you pay attention, you can catch these signs before they develop into a full fledged eating disorder. Many teenagers show signs of discontent with their bodies, or compare themselves to their peers. It is important to watch for indications that a teenager may take the next step and begin developing a teen eating disorder.

One thing you can do to help prevent the development of a teen eating disorder is to avoid making comments about a teenager’s weight. Also, instead of focusing on thinness and weight, focus on lifestyle choices and being healthy. Talk to your teenager about making healthy choices, and point out that dieting just to lose weight is not the answer.

In order to catch a problem before it becomes a teen eating disorder, you need to be involved in your teenager’s life. You need to talk with him or her, and be aware of the problems he or she might be facing. You also need to be alert to the signs of a teen eating disorder so that you can head it off if things look as though they are progressing in a dangerous direction.

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