Children as young as 6 developing anorexia

young eating disordersWhen reading about people who have suffered at the hands of bulimia and anorexia nervosa over the years, it is difficult not to get upset, as these mental illnesses can take a long time to treat and the mental scars usually remain for even longer.

As more research is carried out into the two conditions, it is beginning to become quite clear that almost anyone - regardless of gender, culture or age - can be affected, while their families are often left feeling confused and helpless about the nature of the symptoms.

While sufferers can spend years attempting to hide their conditions from loved ones, it is important to be aware of the telltale signs of anorexia nervosa and bulimia in order to ensure the problems are being treated as soon as possible.

And those parents who have children that have yet to reach puberty may also be encouraged to take note after a young girl of just six years old was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in the US.

A story reported by ABC News revealed kindergarten pupil Sophie began starving herself after giving up sweets and taking smaller portions of food, while exercising compulsively on the monkey bars in the playground.

However, her parents - who requested her real name be kept private - had no idea she was developing an eating disorder as her height and weight appeared to be normal on the pediatrician's growth chart.

The little girl then began complaining of being dizzy and having itchy skin before she became constipated, which are all considered to be symptoms of malnutrition.

It was later discovered the infant had secretly been throwing her school lunches and snacks away.

When Sophie was later diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when she reached first grade, she had not gained a pound for ten months and had dropped from the 60th to the 19th percentile on the weight charts.

Her mother told the news provider: "Her memories are that her teacher had told her she had to eat healthy - and she's the kind of kid who reads between the lines of all the rules and follows them to the letter better than anyone else.

"She is a perfectionist and has always been an anxious kid."

Although the exact reasons behind why some individuals develop eating disorders remain a mystery, scientists have previously suggested they tend to occur initially during adolescence or early adulthood when the body experiences a lot of changes.

Medical professionals estimate the illnesses come as a combination of biological, behavioural and social factors, as children are influenced through cultural images that may appear to favour bodies that are underweight.

Those who have experienced anxiety disorders, depression and substance abuse are also more likely to suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

Parents are advised to increase their knowledge on the illnesses as much as they can if they worry their little ones are experiencing a changing attitude to food, while considering the importance of seeking professional help to overcome the illnesses.

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