The other day I heard my 13-year-old daughter complain, "I'm
fat." She's started to stay away from family meals and says
she's not hungry. I'm upset that she's already worried about
her weight and that she may be developing an eating disorder. How
do I know if there's a problem and what can I do to help her if
It's common for teens to be concerned about how they look
and to feel self-conscious about their weight. During puberty,
kids' bodies change dramatically and they face mounting social
pressures, like dating and making friends. But when these concerns
become obsessions or begin to involve abnormal behaviors or
negative thoughts about weight and food, eating disorders can
Someone who starts to do things that are emotionally or
physically dangerous to lose weight may have an eating problem.
Other signs of an eating disorder include playing with or moving
food around on the plate instead of eating it, exercising
compulsively, and constantly talking about weight and food.
If you're concerned that your daughter may have an eating
disorder, it's important to get her the help she may need right
away. Let her know that you're worried because of the things
that you have noticed. Disordered eating during the teen years can
lead to a variety of long-term health problems down the road. Have
your daughter talk to a counselor, doctor, or a mental health
For more information, check out these articles:
Binge Eating Disorder
Food & Nutrition
Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: January 2007
Originally reviewed by:
Neil Izenberg, MD
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