ANN ARBOR, Mich. – In the past decade, research has shown a growing number of young children diagnosed with eating disorders, but not all primary care physicians are aware of these latest findings.
A clinical report released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics provides pediatricians with several recommendations based on recent research to help them recognize and treat eating disorders sooner.
Recommendations include ensuring that health care providers are knowledgeable about the early signs and symptoms of disordered eating and that they are screening annually for the disorder.
“We want health care providers and family members to be tuned in to the possibility that eating disorders can occur much earlier than they might think,” says report lead author Dr. David S. Rosen, a professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases, internal medicine and psychiatry at the U-M.
“There is new research regarding treatment and prognosis that we wanted primary care providers to have. We want to give them the tools they need to do the very best job,” says Rosen, who previously served on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Adolescence.
Eating disorders are on the rise among children younger than 12 years, males and minorities, according to previous studies. It is estimated that 0.5 percent of adolescent girls in the United States have anorexia nervosa, and 1 percent to 2 percent meet criteria for bulimia nervosa.
Medical complications of eating disorders can affect any organ system, so it is important for pediatricians and family members to catch eating disorders as soon as possible.
The report, titled “Identification and Management of Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents,” appears in the December 2010 issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Media contact: Heather Guenther