A clinical psychologist, professor Dominique Meilleur said, “many researchers believe that bulimia only appears at adolescence, but our studies indicate that the problem can arise much earlier.”
Professor Meilleur presented her findings at a conference for the Eating Disorders Association of Canada in Vancouver. She also stated, “it is possible that it is currently under-diagnosed due to a lack of awareness and investigation.”
Researchers examined 215 kids who had eating problems between the ages of 8 and 12. They found 47% considered themselves to be “fat”, 69% were afraid of gaining weight, and 95% had restrictive eating behaviors.
The researchers also found that 15% of the kids who participated in the study sometimes purged themselves, and 13% had bulimic behaviors. Also, 52% of the children had been hospitalized at least once due to issues with their eating disorder, and 48% were treated as outpatients.
Professor Meilleur stated, “these behaviors reflect the clinical presentations we observe in adolescents and support findings that body image is a preoccupation for some children as early as elementary school.”
Almost 25% of the children said their appearance was made fun of by their peers, triggering their disorder, and a third of the children had some kind of psychiatric condition within their family. “For some children, bullying can initiate or reinforce body image preoccupations and possibly lead to a change in eating behavior” said Professor Meilleur.
Unfortunately, anyone can develop an eating disorder, and it’s startling to see how young children can also be affected by body image. If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, getting help through a reputable eating disorder treatment center is a wise choice. Treatment centers offer education, counseling, guidance, and tools to help you live your life in healthy way. Caring staff members welcome you with understanding and will help you heal from the mental and physical suffering eating disorders can bring.