When obese teens lose weight, close family and friends view this as a positive improvement to their health. New research shows that overweight teens who lose weight are at risk for developing anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
The reason the eating disorders are not detected at an earlier stage may be from the positive reactions from family and friends because of the weight loss.
There were two cases of formerly overweight teens presented in the study:
1. A 14 year old boy who lost 87 pounds in two years
2. An 18 year old girl who lost 83 pounds in three years.
In the first case, the boy attempted to exercise and eat healthy but he instead turned to a “severe restriction” diet. His medical notes did not point to an eating disorder until the mother asked for an evaluation.
In the second case, the girls mother was worried about her daughter’s diet habits but doctors overlooked her concerns.
In both cases the eating disorders of the teens were not diagnosed although they underwent medical examinations.
“The key to minimize health risks is early intervention” states Dr.Leslie, an eating disorders expert from the Mayo Clinic.
According to a recent study, at least 6% of adolescents have an eating disorder.
Eating disorders carry high relapse rates and come with life threatening medical side effects.
Though it is not widely known, a substantial portion of adolescents who are seen for eating disorders have a weight history in the overweight or obese percentile as defined for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).
Concluding the study, the authors note that any weight loss(even if it brings the child to the “average” range) should merit the eating disorder screening.