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Are you worried about a child in your life? Learn more about eating disorder signs and symptoms and what to do if you’re concerned.

Eating Disorders Signs and Symptoms in Kids and Teens

Eating disorders are serious, complex illnesses that can cause severe harm to those affected. That’s why it’s so important to be on the lookout for warning signs in the kids in your life. Common signs and symptoms of an eating disorder include:

  • Avoiding certain foods.
  • Engaging in food restriction.
  • Obsessive or extreme eating behaviors.
  • Notable weight change.
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom, especially after meals.
  • Excessive exercise.
  • Increased focus on physical appearance.
  • Notable change in behavior, especially in young children.
  • Decreased concentration.
  • Perfectionism.

What to do if you Suspect an Eating Disorder

If you are concerned that a child or teen in your life is struggling with disordered thinking or eating, trust your gut and seek help.  

If you are a parent or family member:

  1. Take warning signs seriously and trust your gut.
  2. Seek advice from a healthcare professional about how to proceed.
  3. Seek advice from a therapist or professional on how to bring up the conversation with your child. We suggest finding a private moment where you can bring up your concerns in a safe way. It’s important to be ready to listen, to have resources handy, and to be able to state your concerns in specific ways. 
  4. Have the conversation with your child. They may get defensive or upset with you, so be sure to listen well and validate their feelings, while stating exactly why you are concerned. 
  5. If appropriate, pursue treatment options. This may include working with your child’s Primary Care Provider, a therapist, or pursuing in-patient treatment options. 

If you an adult concerned about a child in your life:

  1. Always consult with the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) before you talk to the child.
  2. Proceed based upon the parent(s) or guardian(s) wishes.

Get Support Now

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA): NEDA is a good starting point for many adults looking to get help with eating disorder concerns. You can reach their Help Line at 800-931-2237.

WithAll: WithAll offers general information on disordered eating and thinking, resources for families, a Recovery Support Program, and financial support for those seeking treatment.

EDReferral.com: This site offers an easy-to-use search tool to find treatment options near you (US only). 

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