Childhood Eating Disorders On The Rise


By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) Childhood eating disorders are becoming more prevalent, especially at a younger age. A recent study revealed that hospitalizations for children under age 12 rose 119% between 1999 and 2006.

Dr. Samuel Pullen trained at the Mayo Clinic where he worked closely with children and adolescents battling an eating disorder. Through his work, he's seen the increase of eating disorders firsthand.

Dr. Pullen adds, "we're also seeing the trend shifting towards patients being diagnosed with eating disorders at a younger age and so both of those are very concerning."

One of the factors that often plays into a child developing an eating disorder is the ideal of what is considered to be attractive in our culture.
But doctor pullen adds, it might be environmental factors as well.

"If we take it down to the family level, in looking at families and how they deal with conflict and deal with negative emotions for example. We find those are families who don't deal well with that. Those are risk factors."

Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa, are the most frequent eating disorders, with Bulimia Nervosa being more commonly discussed of the two.

"Estimates go anywhere from 3–10% within the U.S. population with anorexia, about 1% of the population are diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa."

Anorexia Nervosa has one of the higher mortality rates of all mental illnesses.

But unfortunately, is one of the more challenging disorders to treat.

"Patients with Anorexia can succumb to medical complications like Cardiac Arrhythmia for example and can have heart failure. There's also high rates of attempted and completed suicide in this population."

Doctors tend to use therapy based approaches when caring for kids and adolescents with Anorexia while medication is typically used for Bulimia Nervosa.

Dr. Samuel Pullen works for St. Luke's Clinic-Behavioral Health on Shoup Avenue in Twin Falls.

For a 24–hour hotline, please call 734–6760.

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