Ways to combat eating disorders in children

  • Fitterfly - Team Nutrition

  • Posted On April 03, 2018

Eating disorders and their increasing prevalence in children has caused a dramatic shift in the overall growth and development of adolescents. Many forms of treatment modalities used to treat eating disorders invariably differ as per severity and duration of illness.

Treatment measures outside hospital settings, residential programs, and family interventions help reduce the severity of eating disorders in children.

  1. Psychotherapy: A new approach to studying the psychological aspect of children and parents has proved to be highly beneficial in the treatment of eating disorders in children
    • The most important form of psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It focuses on children’s drive to obtain a thin body frame as a result of a distorted body image. Harmful implications of eating disorders are explained to children and caregivers during counseling sessions.
    • Children and caregivers are made aware of the genetic and biological contributions to the prevalence of eating disorders in children.
    • Nutrition rehabilitation programs are conducted for children with eating disorders and also for those most likely prone to developing chronic ED. This helps in improving cognition in children caused due to malnutrition.
  2. Pharmacotherapy and other therapies: Children suffering from chronic eating disorders undergo permanent changes in the structure of the brain. Many treatment modalities aim at treating neurological complications seen in such children.
    • Pharmacotherapy concentrates on diagnosis and treatment of the neurological complications seen in children with eating disorders.
    • Occupational therapy is one such treatment modality that helps children perform meaningful activities that help them recuperate from symptoms of eating disorders.
  3. Family-based treatment (FBT): It is a very simple and effective approach to treatment that provides perfect solutions to caregivers while handling children with eating disorders. There are three phases of recovery that include: physical, behavioral and psychological recovery.
    • Phase 1- This primarily targets revival of normal weight of the child. It includes coaching caregivers to help children recover through therapeutic interventions by counseling them to avoid restrictions for children in food. Instead, it promotes providing children with foods they like and helps them perceive food in a positive way. It also prevents children develop textural aversions towards foods they dislike.
    • Phase 2- Behavioral modification techniques are used to gradually bring control over the symptoms seen in children with eating disorders. Binge eating, vomiting and food aversions can be controlled over patient counseling techniques provided by experts.
    • Phase 3- This is combination therapy that works on prevention techniques. It may include treatment measures untried before termination

    FBT is conducted over a period of 6-12 months with best results of 60% recovery by the end of the year.

  4. Prevention techniques: This targets a specific set of children undergoing obesity treatments. Following are the tips used to counsel such children and caregivers.
    • To inform parents and adolescents that rigorous and unhealthy weight management regimes and FAD dieting can be extremely harmful. Healthy eating and nutritional advice from experts must be encouraged positively in children.
    • Caregivers must avoid criticizing children for their weight. Teens should be encouraged to take care of their body and nurture it with immense positivity.
    • Encourage teens to have regular, and enjoyable, family meals together.
    • Parents must be able to shower adequate love and care while solving all problems arising during the treatment period.
    • Parents must avoid talks on weight control and food restrictions to children. Let us all fight this battle of mind and food together with nutritional experts at FitterFly.

Nurture a healthy brain for a healthy body with love, care, and positivity!!

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Disclaimer: All information here, including text, images, tables, videos and any other content is for your knowledge only and we do not guarantee any specific result by following these recommendations as it may vary from person to person. The information is not a substitute for qualified medical advice from a doctor or other medical health expert.