(WHTM) — A recent report from the CDC shows emergency room visits for eating disorders doubled among girls between the ages of 12 and 17 years old during the pandemic.
Kasey Goodpaster, Ph.D., a psychologist for Cleveland Clinic, said that could be due to a couple of reasons.
“I think about the mental health crisis that’s affected our entire population and the isolation of the pandemic brought about,” she said. “But, also some specifics around children and teens and their social media usage, how that then affects their body image and might too affect their relationship with food.”
So, how can parents tell if their child may be struggling with an eating disorder?
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Dr. Goodpaster said some signs may include negative self-talk about their body, frequently checking their weight, becoming preoccupied with food, or avoid eating around others.
They may also start exercising excessively or showing physical changes, like sudden weight loss or weight gain.
Dr. Goodpaster said it’s important for parents to be careful in how they communicate with their child as well. They should never comment on their body size or shape, even if they are paying a compliment.
“Parents should also not make critical comments about their own bodies or other people’s bodies because those comments are very easily internalized by children and teens. They most benefit from parents modeling body image and self-love,” she said.
Dr. Goodpaster said if you sense something is wrong with your child, don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional for help. Early intervention is crucial in recovery.