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Eating Disorders in Adolescents Essay

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Updated: Jun 23rd, 2022

Eating disorder as a severe health condition that can be manifested in many different ways may tackle a person of any age, gender, and socio-cultural background. However, adolescents, especially when it comes to female teenagers, are considered to be the most vulnerable in terms of developing this condition (Izydorczyk & Sitnik-Warchulska, 2018). According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP, 2018), 10 in 100 young women struggle with an eating disorder. Thus, the purpose of the present paper is to dwell on the specifics of external factors causing the disorder as well as the ways to deal with this issue.

To begin with, it is necessary to define which diseases are meant under the notion of an eating disorder. Generally, eating disorders encompass such conditions as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) (AACAP, 2018). Although these conditions have different manifestations in the context of eating patterns, all of them affect teenager’s nutrition patterns and average weight. According to the researchers, there exist common external stressors that lead to an eating disorder, such as:

  • Socio-cultural appearance standards. For the most part, modern culture and mass media promote certain body images as a generally accepted ideal, which causes many teenage girls to doubt their appearance and follow the mass trends.
  • Biological factors. Some teenagers might have a genetic predisposition for certain disorders if anyone in the family struggled with the disease at some point in the past.
  • Emotional factors. Children, who are at risk of being affected by such mental disorders as anxiety and depression, are likely to disrupt their nutrition patterns.
  • Peer pressure. Similar to socio-cultural standards, peer pressure dictates certain criteria for the teenagers’ body image, eventually impacting their perception of food and nutrition (Izydorczyk & Sitnik-Warchulska, 2018).

With such a variety of potential stressors, it is imperative for both medical professionals and caregivers to pay close attention to the teenager’s eating habits. Thus, in order to assess the issue, any medical screening should include weight and height measurements. In such a way, medical professionals are able to define any discrepancies in the measurements over time and bring this issue up with a patient. When working with adolescents, it is of paramount importance to establish a trusting relationship with a patient, as teenagers are extremely vulnerable at this age. After identifying any issue related to weight and body image, nurses and physicians need to ask the patient whether they have any problems with eating. In case they are not willing to talk on the matter, it is necessary to emphasize that their response will not be shared with caregivers unless they want it. It is also necessary to ask questions regarding the child’s relationship with peers carefully, as they may easily become an emotional trigger.

In order to avoid such complications as eating disorders, it is vital for caregivers to talk with their children on the topic of the aforementioned stressors. Firstly, they need to promote healthy eating patterns by explaining why it is important for one’s body instead of giving orders to the child. For additional support, they may ask a medical professional to justify this information. Secondly, the caregivers need to dedicate time to explain the inappropriateness of body standards promoted by the mass media and promote diversity and positive body image within the family. Lastly, caregivers are to secure a safe environment for the teenager’s fragile self-esteem and self-actualization in order for them to feel more confident among peers (Boberová & Husárová, 2021). These steps, although frequently undermined, contribute beneficially in terms of dealing with eating disorders external stressors among adolescents.

References

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry [AACAP]. (2018). Web.

Boberová, Z., & Husárová, D. (2021). What role does body image in relationship between level of health literacy and symptoms of eating disorders in adolescents?. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(7), 3482.

Izydorczyk, B., & Sitnik-Warchulska, K. (2018). Socio-cultural appearance standards and risk factors for eating disorders in adolescents and women of various ages. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 429.

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