Be alert to changes in teens' weight and eating habits
Significant changes in a teen's weight or eating habits could signal
potentially serious food-related problems.
"It's common for teens to skip an occasional meal," said
Becky Gorham, a research dietitian with the USDA/ARS Children's
Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
"But dramatic weight loss or gain, sudden interest or preoccupation
with exercise, food, calories, body weight or size indicate that
food is becoming a problem."
Teens with eating problems might wear oversized clothing to hide
weight loss or gain, visit the restroom frequently after meals,
exercise compulsively or excessively, develop food rituals like
cutting food in tiny pieces, avoid social occasions that involve
food, or appear moody or depressed.
Early treatment is key to preventing eating problems from developing
into eating disorders. Bulimia, or induced vomiting, and anorexia
nervosa, or intentional starvation, are very difficult to treat
and can be life-threatening disorders.
"If you think your child is developing food-related problems,
seek help from your healthcare professional immediately," Gorham
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