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Loss of Weight by Obese Teens Increases Risk of Eating Disorders

Loss of Weight by Obese Teens Increases Risk of Eating Disorders In what seems like a double bind, Mayo Clinic researchers suggest obese teenagers who lose weight are at risk of developing eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

As noted in a recent article in the journal Pediatrics, experts contend that eating disorders among these patients are also not being adequately detected because the weight loss is seen as positive by providers and family members.

In the article, Mayo Clinic researchers argue that formerly overweight adolescents tend to have more medical complications from eating disorders and it takes longer to diagnose them than kids who are in a normal weight range.

This is problematic because early intervention is the key to a good prognosis, says Leslie Sim, Ph.D., an eating disorders expert in the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center and lead author of the study.

Although not widely known, individuals with a weight history in the overweight or obese range, represent a substantial portion of adolescents presenting for eating disorder treatment, says Dr. Sim.

As a result of the findings, experts say prevention of obesity is critical.

“Given research that suggests early intervention promotes best chance of recovery, it is imperative that these children and adolescents’ eating disorder symptoms are identified and intervention is offered before the disease progresses,” says Dr. Sim.

This report analyzes two examples of eating disorders that developed in the process of obese adolescents’ efforts to reduce their weight. Both cases illustrate specific challenges in the identification of eating disorder behaviors in adolescents with this weight history and the corresponding delay such teenagers experience accessing appropriate treatment.

At least 6 percent of adolescents suffer from eating disorders, and more than 55 percent of high school females and 30 percent of males report disordered eating symptoms including engaging in one or more maladaptive behaviors (fasting, diet pills, vomiting, laxatives, binge eating) to induce weight loss.

Eating disorders are associated with high relapse rates and significant impairment to daily life, along with a host of medical side effects that can be life-threatening, says Dr. Sim.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Teenager who has lost weight holding her pants out by shutterstock.

Loss of Weight by Obese Teens Increases Risk of Eating Disorders

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Loss of Weight by Obese Teens Increases Risk of Eating Disorders. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/09/10/loss-of-weight-by-obese-teens-increases-risk-of-eating-disorders/59376.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.