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Eating disorders in children

Keywords:
  • child psychiatry
  • eating disorders

At HUS, we examine and treat children with eating disorders.

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Problems with eating are common with children. Selective eating is common and usually recedes with age. Children also sometimes express dissatisfaction with their bodies. It is not always clear where to draw the line between what is normal and what is an eating disorder requiring treatment. An eating disorder can be diagnosed when eating issues begin to govern a child’s life and endanger their health, growth and development. 

Adults with a presence in the child’s everyday life play a key role in preventing, identifying and addressing eating-related problems. It is advisable to seek help at an early stage, for instance by consulting the school nurse.

Children with anorexia nervosa begin to fear weight gain and perceive themselves as being fat even though they are not. This condition often originates in an attempt to lose weight that may spiral out of control into insufficient nutrition and excessive exercise. People with eating disorders often do not feel that they need help; instead, they attempt to mask the symptoms. Hunger reinforces the symptoms and maintains obsessive thoughts about food.
 
Children with bulimia, by contrast, may binge eat several portions of food at one time. Overeating often leads to regret and a desire to prevent weight gain for instance by induced vomiting, exercise, or laxatives.

Children may also present with clinical obesity and related binge eating. 

The primary sources for care in these cases are school health care, student welfare services or the local health center. At HUS, we conduct diagnostic examinations as necessary.

 

Treatment facilities

Child Psychiatry Eating Disorder Unit, Pasila

In the Child Psychiatry Eating Disorder Unit, we treat children between the ages of 6 and 12 who have problems with eating.