While society has an idea about the age of the typical eating disorder sufferer, making this assumption in every situation could actually put the individual at risk. According to this Gaston Gazette report, eating disorders are starting with the young.
Younger individuals with younger minds are very susceptible to the images they see. Nutrition experts warn that pictures of models, weight-loss commercials and flashy junk-food ad campaigns could be sending mixed messages to children that could also put them at risk.
These younger individuals can easily be confused about the messages they receive, which can lead to eating disorders. Across the nation, children are either overweight or starving for fear of gaining weight. In addition, the number of teenagers and pre-teens is on the rise, as the victims of anorexia and bulimia are getting younger every day.
Dr. Greg Milroy with Caromont Pediatric Partners in Gastonia noted that kids are showing up for treatment as young as 5- and 6-years old with body issues. In addition, hospitalization for eating disorders in children under 12 has increased by 119 percent between 1999 and 2006, per data provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Nutrition is a real problem in the U.S. and until they are taught differently, children may continue to suffer. Those with eating disorders often deal with shame and will go to great length to keep their condition hidden.
Overeaters may hide food; while anorexics and bulimics will deny accusations that they have a problem, wearing clothing to cover their malnourished bodies. Without directly addressing the issue among younger children, this problem is likely to continue to get worse.