Increasing Number of CT Youth Affected By Eating Disorders

By Victoria Kim 08/15/14

There is growing concern over 10- and 11-year-olds being diagnosed with eating disorders.

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Experts are concerned about the thousands of adults and children who struggle with eating disorders in Connecticut, where 3.4% of the population is affected.

An increasing number of Connecticut teens, Hispanic teens in particular, were affected by disordered eating between 2009 and 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Youth Risk Behavior Surveys.

"We used to see eating disorders start at 13 or 14. Now, we frequently see 10- and 11-year-olds," said Dr. Diane Mickley, founder and director of the Wilkins Centers for Eating Disorders in Greenwich.

Since 2011, Center for Discovery has opened two adolescent residential treatment centers in Fairfield Country for youth, from ages 11 to 17.

"We've been getting calls through the years that have progressively involved younger and younger children," said Craig Brown, a founder and chief executive officer for the Center for Discovery.

"We're concerned that there are many boys and girls flying under the radar who could be struggling with eating disorders that aren't diagnosed or treated," he added.

Eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating can lead to serious medical consequences including abnormally low heart rate and blood pressure, osteoporosis, kidney failure, hair loss, gastric ruptures, tooth decay, loss of menstrual cycles, and death. Many individuals who suffer eating disorders have additional psychiatric conditions including depression or self-harm.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. "It's a pressing public health issue. These are serious psychiatric disorders that can lead to death," said Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

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