Childhood Eating Disorders and Their Effects

According to experts, childhood eating disorders do not usually take place until and unless the child is suffering from serious weight issues. But, thinness portrayed by media as a healthy option can have serious effects on the overall health of the children.

Majority of children refuse to eat which is a common thing among children. The childhood eating disorders can result from the combination of social, behavioral and biological factors. Children of present days are often faced with different problems like distress, feeling of helplessness, low self esteem and fear of becoming overweight. In order to cope with such issues children often adopt unhealthy eating habits. The eating disorders adopted by children can lead them towards different types of physical problems and in some cases, death.

The symptoms of childhood eating disorders generally depend on the eating disorder type. If the child develops an unhealthy image mentally and gets the feeling that the best way to deal with this situation is through food refusal, chances of anorexia nervosa development increases significantly. Obsession regarding unhealthy eating ways starts settling in and the amount of food consumed usually tends to be of extremely small proportion. They start exercising for hours which gives them the feeling that people will find them attracting and charming.

Childhood Eating Disorders

The condition of bulimia can be considered an opposite case of anorexia nervosa where the child starts to consume as much food as possible in a short time period. In such type of childhood eating disorders, the child generally feels guilty after consumption of the food and takes laxatives or induces vomiting to get rid of it. The condition is most prevalent among females suffering from serious depression or self-esteem issues.

There are different types of risk factors associated with childhood eating disorders some of which are given below:

  • Age – Even though eating disorders can happen to anyone but it is more prevalent among teenagers and people in their early 20’s.
  • Being Female – Young women and teenage girls have greater chances of developing eating disorders than young men and teenage boys.
  • Emotional Disorders – People with obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression have greater chances of developing eating disorders.
  • Family History – Although this might sound strange but people with eating disorders in their family are much more susceptible towards developing eating disorders.

The basic way to treat childhood eating disorders is through medication, nutrition education and psychotherapy. With the help of psychotherapy, the child finds new ways to deal with stress and depression. The cognitive behavioral therapy is generally used for children suffering from eating disorders. Nutrition education has proven to be quite effective for children who have developed unhealthy eating habits.

The health care providers offer useful information about healthy diet plan that helps in maintaining a healthy body and mind and also helps in avoiding some unwanted childhood eating disorders. Although, medications cannot stop eating disorders but they assist the child in controlling the urges to purge or binge and even managing excessive preoccupations with diet and food.

Types of Childhood Psychological Disorders

Whereas a physical disorder can be easily diagnosed and treated, same is not the case with a psychological disorder. The diagnosis of psychological disorders is sometimes challenging and one of the most important reasons for this is that the patients are either unacquainted with the symptoms of the disease and hence are in the dark about their illness while in other cases they react severely, sometimes brutally, when receiving treatment. As for the treatment, the psychological disorders are generally treated either with medication or by counselling. Mentioned under are some of the commonest of childhood psychological disorders.

Learning Disorder

There are children who learn things at a slower rate. This is to say that they take greater time to learn things than is taken by the other children of their age. This is troubling enough. But what is more troubling is when children cannot comprehend and hold the information for long. The problem lies in their incapacity to retain the information. The learning disorder becomes all the more pathetic with such children who oftentimes fail to process their own thoughts.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

This counts among the commonest childhood psychological disorders. Children who are affected with ADHD are restless always because they are hyperactive. They never sit still and always move about. They seem to be very quickly bored with whatever activity they are offered and get frustrated very easily. They show utter inability in following directions and cannot give their complete attention to a particular thing for long. Children with such disorder cannot often show anger and aggression and take longer to calm down. They can be treated with medication and therapy.

Childhood Psychological Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorder can also be very commonly cited in children. The cause of the anxiety can be anything that they dread. For instance, it can be school. Such disordered children can throw tantrums and simply refuse to go to school. Parents often mistake their behaviour for rebellion, but if they have anxiety disorders, they would show physical symptoms. They can sweat or their heart rate can increase. Rapid breathing can also be seen in some cases, while in others they can experience fainting smells.


Although this is a disorder among adults, schizophrenia also counts among the childhood psychological disorders. Children suffering from schizophrenia can be seen faking ailments. People often mistake this for attention seeking behaviour in children. Such children may also be, at times, incoherent in what they say or do. They can also see things that are not there in reality. Schizophrenia can also distort thinking, emotions, and reality. The disorder can be controlled through treatment but cannot be cured. Children suffering such disorder can find it hard to socialize, eventually withdrawing into shell and struggling with their emotions.


Know About Some Childhood Mental Disorders

Childhood mental disorders are both difficult and tough to identify for parents in their children. It’s usually the parent’s duty to identify them, but many of them don’t know the symptoms and signs of mental illness in children. Many argues that they show mental disorder symptoms and normal childhood behavior in a very early stage, but parents fails to ‘see’ them as they take that as just another childhood phase. These are some of the mental health conditions that affect children.

Childhood Mental Disorders

Anxiety disorders

Obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobia, post-traumatic stress order etc. are some of the anxiety disorders that a child faces during their growing years. It is a persistent problem for them which interferes with their regular activities, resulting in poor grades in school and failing to gel with other children.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

It includes a mixture of various conditions such as difficulty in sustaining attention, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.


It usually appears in early childhood before the age of 3, and the symptoms vary and it affects the child’s inability to interact and communicate well with their friends or family.

Eating disorders

Children suffering from this condition usually get themselves pre-occupied with food that stops them from focussing on other things.

Mood disorders

It causes a child to feel relentless feelings of unhappiness or frequent mood swings.


It is a chronic illness among children that causes them to lose senses and touch with reality.

Some of the signs of childhood mental disorders include mood changes which may cause problems in relationship both at home or school, feelings of intense fear for no reason which might interfere with their daily routine, behavioural changes such as fighting frequently or expressing desire to hurt someone very badly, difficulty in concentrating and participating in normal activities at school and last but not the least using substances such as alcohol or drugs to come in terms with their feelings.

If one suspects of any kind of uncommon behavior in their child, one should consult with their child’s doctor as soon as possible. If they think that the child is suffering from such pains as related to mental health then they might suggest in consulting and evaluating with a psychiatrist, mental health counselor, psychologist, support groups etc. One can also consult with the child’s teachers and other parents at school to oversee whether everything is normal or not. They can help in developing a special academic plan if necessary. If all these childhood mental disorders are treated in their early stages, then the child can easily lead a normal and happy life later.