The 3 surprising signs your child is hiding an eating disorder – and what to do

The line between picky and disorderly eating can be thin.

But as cases of eating disorders in children rise, it’s more important than ever to know the key signs of the life-threatening condition.

Three out of ten girls have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia


Three out of ten girls have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimiaPhoto credit: Getty – Contributor

Spanish researchers found that more than one in five young people (22 percent) suffer from eating disorders.

About three out of ten girls have an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia.

And one in six boys suffers from some form of the disease.

The team analyzed the health data of 63,000 children between the ages of seven and 18 from 16 different countries.

The lead author, Dr. Jose Francisco Lopez-Gill, from the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, said the results were “worrying” and stressed the need for prevention strategies.

“Indeed, eating disorders are among the most life-threatening psychiatric problems,” he added.

“People with these diseases die 10 to 20 years younger than the general population,” the expert added.

Eating disorders come in many different forms and are thought to affect around 1.25 million Britons.

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Independent experts have previously told The Sun that the pandemic may have deepened the eating disorder crisis.

Social media could also be responsible for promoting unattainable body images — contributing to rising body dissatisfaction among teens who aren’t even overweight.

Meanwhile, some Instagram pages are teaching teens how to form unhealthy relationships with food using a technique called “meanspo.”

dr Jose said, “Eating disorders in childhood/adolescence can predict outcomes associated with eating disorders in early adulthood.

“And for that reason, this high proportion found is worrying and requires urgent action to address this situation.”

The latest study was published in JAMA Paediatrics.

Here are 3 surprising signs your child might have an eating disorder

Earlier, The Sun spoke to Dr. Joanna Silver, who has been helping people with eating disorders for over a decade.

As the lead mental health therapist at Orri—a day-care service for people with eating disorders—she knows all the classic signs that someone is either hiding or denying an eating disorder.

Speaking to The Sun, Dr. Joanna: “Unfortunately, these days, eating disorders can start at a very young age. They usually start in their teens, but it’s never too early to take notice.”

Here are some subtle telltale signs the expert thought every parent should know about.

1. Telling them they “had big lungs”

dr Joanna said kids and teens can justify eating less or avoiding it by telling their parents they “had a big lunch” or “have dinner with friends later” — which they aren’t.

2. Wondering where you’re going for dinner

Sometimes kids like this so they can look up the menu beforehand and figure out which foods have the fewest calories, she explained.

3. A general change in behavior

She said: “They may seem calmer and generally say less and become more withdrawn or secretive.

“The isolation serves the purpose of keeping the eating disorder from going unchallenged.

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A person with an eating disorder may become increasingly anxious, depressed, or have a rapidly changing mood, said Dr. Joanna.

“They may get angry or aggressive to protect the eating disorder from challenges. “

How to help a child with an eating disorder?

If your child is being treated for an eating disorder, their care team will play a big part in their recovery.

But don’t underestimate the importance of your love and support.

It can help:

  • Learn as much as you can about eating disorders so you understand what you are dealing with
  • Keep telling them that you love them and will always be there for them
  • Make them aware of the available professional help
  • Suggest non-food activities like hobbies and spending time with friends
  • ask what you can do to help
  • Try to be honest about your own feelings as this will encourage them to do the same
  • Be a good role model by eating a balanced diet and getting enough exercise
  • For example, try to build their confidence, praise them for their attention, or congratulate them on something they’ve done

Source: NHS The 3 surprising signs your child is hiding an eating disorder – and what to do

Emma James

Emma James is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma James joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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