At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S., according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), and diagnosed cases of eating disorders in American children are on the rise. “This is partly due to better screening and more open conversation about mental health in general,” explains Heather Russo, Site Director at The Renfrew Center of Los Angeles, one of the country’s top treatment centers for eating disorders.
“We also see some stigma vanishing as social media has allowed children to openly speak about their own eating and body struggles. The difficulty facing children now is the abundance of messages about food and appearance on every screen in front of them.”
For parents of children with eating disorders, help is out there. “Parents need allies in the fight against an eating disorder,” says Russo. “They need to work with a team of skilled professionals who can address the dietary, psychological and medical needs of their child.” However, children don’t often have the ability to express what they struggle with emotionally, so parents can watch out for the silent signs of an eating disorder.
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