So far in our eating-disorder prevention series we’ve focused on stopping eating disorders before they begin (primary prevention). But even if you put all the protective factors in place — fostering a healthy body image, having regular family meals and declaring a diet-free household — there’s still a chance your child will develop an eating disorder.
According to Sari Shepphird PhD, eating disorder specialist and author of 100 Questions & Answers About Anorexia Nervosa, eating disorders have a strong genetic connection. For example, a child whose parent suffered with an eating disorder is 12 times more likely to be diagnosed with one. And according to the National Eating Disorders Association, some individuals have altered brain chemicals making them more vulnerable to eating disorders.
“Parents can prevent a certain amount of disordered eating,” says Laura Collins author of Eating with Your Anorexic: How My Child Recovered Through Family-Based Treatment and Yours Can Too. “But some young people seem to be so deeply predisposed toward this illness that they will develop it no matter what their environment is.”
This is where “secondary prevention” comes in. It focuses on the early identification of an eating disorder – to treat this disease before it gets out of control. Shepphird explains that when caught early, persons suffering from eating disorders have the best chance of full recovery.
So with that in mind, here are three tell-tale signs that can help you catch an eating disorder early. (more…)