Obese teens who lose weight at risk for anorexia, bulimia
When obese or overweight teens lose weight, they are met with positive encouragement and approval, but new research published in the journal Pediatrics found that they can also be at risk for developing anorexia or bulimia, which can go undetected.
Researchers found that the positive reactions of friends, family and medical professionals may actually be the reason eating disorders in these teens go undetected at an early stage. And, early intervention is key when it comes to treating eating disorders, according to Dr. Leslie Slim, an eating disorder expert from the May Clinic.
Two cases were presented in the study, one was a formerly overweight 14-year old boy who lost 87 pounds in two years, and the second was an 18-year-old formerly overweight girl who lost 83 pounds in three years. In the boy’s case, he displayed severe eating restrictions and lost half his body weight. Doctors did not consider an eating disorder until the teen’s mother asked for an evaluation. In the second case, the girl’s mother was worried about her daughter’s low fat intake and eating habits, but doctors ignored her concerns and even overlooked the girl’s dizziness and lack of menstrual period. In both cases, the teens underwent regular medical examinations and showed obvious signs of malnutrition, but eating disorders were not considered.
Researchers say it’s important to remember that any weight loss in a patient should merit an eating disorder screening regardless of a person’s current weight.