Obese Teens & Their Invisible Eating Disorders

An alarming new trend has come to light following the release of an article in the October issue of Pediatrics. According to researchers from the Mayo Clinic, teens who have a history of obesity of being overweight are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders as they undergo treatment for their weight problems.

The study looked at two cases where teens were brought to their doctors by concerned parents. Though the teensí symptoms matched those of eating disorders, the doctors were hesitant to diagnose the teens with disordered eating. Instead, both were originally diagnosed with much rarer conditions. The study further states that this may have happened due to the fact that the teens were at healthy Body Mass Indexes (BMI).

Your BMI is one important factor in determining overall health and healthy weight, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. You or anyone, just like the teens mentioned in the study, can be at a “healthy” BMI and still suffer from an eating disorder. Instead of only looking at BMI to determine health, eating and exercising habits should be examined, as well as rate of weight loss. Treatment for eating disorders is most effective when the disorder is caught early, so proper diagnosis at the first signs of disordered eating is of the utmost importance.

In both cases discussed in the study, the teens rapidly lost weight through extreme calorie restriction and exercise. Because they were obese, their efforts at weight loss were applauded and seen as something healthy. Unfortunately, substantial numbers of teens who go in for eating disorder treatment were formerly obese. At the Mayo Clinic eating disorder clinic alone, 45 percent of last year’s patients were teens who had a history of obesity.

It is thought that the pressure these teens feel to lose weight combined with the cultural emphasis on dieting and being thin is partly responsible for the trend. There is no doubt that child and teen obesity are major problems that need to be addressed and solved. We must also realize: teens and children who fall in the normal, overweight or obese range can have or develop eating disorders, though the symptoms may be less noticeable.


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Vrishni S.
Rekha S4 years ago

Very interesting thanks for that!

Karen Gee4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Donna Ferguson
Donna F4 years ago


Monika Ka
Monika K4 years ago


Sumit jamadar
Sumit jamadar4 years ago


Randi Levin
Randi Levin4 years ago

As I Childhood Obesity Expert I did predict this and stated that this would happen 3 years ago when Let's Move and Action for Healthy Kids and Healthy School Programs began. YOU DO NOT Teach a child (children) to be obsessed with their body image, their weight and food choices as the result is a severe rise in Eating Disorders, Yes Body Dysmorphic Disorders give rise to an addictive and dysfunctional control what a child may or may not eat or drink.

Yet the primary issues here as the teaching of children to be fearful of gaining weight and/or getting fat, to eat only this not that, to count limit, and control the amount of calories consumed as well as to count and focus on nutrient lists and amounts. Add to this the New Plate which when copied and Xeroxed onto a 10x8 inch piece is paper is not the same size of an actual plate--yet children are taught to measure their food as to this plate which is in reality much smaller than an actual plate!

And on top of everything else FAT SHAMING

Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard4 years ago

thank you

Bob P.

thanks for sharing

Denise Morley
Denise Morley4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Riley Anderson
Past Member 4 years ago