Why Do Children Develop Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders affect both boys and girls, and the term itself is responsible for a vast spectrum of varying issues, all of which are categorised by an abnormal attitude towards food.

Eating disorders are incredibly complex issues and are often not attributed to one particular underlying issue. In the media there is a great emphasis (and fortunately a slow change in attitude) to the way body image is represented. It is felt that the representation of thin (or muscular), clear skinned airbrushed models creates an unrealistic expectation upon young people, that contributes towards low self esteem and a desire to create the perfect body.

However whilst the media shall not remain blameless, there are other contributing factors that can cause an eating disorder to emerge.

Family history: If other family members have in the past suffered with an eating disorder, this can be an influencing factor for a young person – particularly if they bore witness to the period of time when the eating disorder was causing problems to the family member. A family history of depression or substance misuse can also be an influencer for a young persons relationship with their own body and attitude towards food.

Bullying: If the young person has had their body size, shape or image criticised this may also be an underpinning factor in their ED (Eating Disorder). They may self criticise too – particularly if they have hobbies that highlight their physique such as dancing or gymnastics.

Control: If there is an area of life that feels out of control for the young person, such as excessive school pressures, controlling what they eat or how their body looks, give them a sense of control over their lives that may be lacking in other areas. People who are perfectionists often feel out of control because they are never able to get everything just as they would like it to be.

Self Esteem Issues: Young people who have suffered any sort of abuse are particularly at risk of low self esteem but self esteem issues can creep in after changes in life too. For some a major life change such as the death of a relative might trigger a self esteem issue, for others something such as a change in schools can set their self esteem off balance.

Eating disorders are treatable and a young person can make a full recovery with the right help, however without treatment, the effects can be fatal. Treatment isn’t just centred around dietary and exercise awareness. It’s really important that the underlying psychological challenges are overcome and techniques such as NLP, CBT and Psychotherapy may all be of use. Sometimes antidepressants may also be prescribed.

The original version of this article was written by Gemma Bailey, director of www.NLP4Kids.org.

It was republished and rebuilt with additional content by Chloe Farmer NLP4Kids Practitioner https://anxietytherapyessex.nlp4kids.org.


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