What young people find when they search for fitness information can be very problematic. You are likely to encounter harmful "thinspiration" and "fitspiration" posts celebrating lean or sculpted bodies, or even places that lead to eating disorders. Worse still, algorithms record online search information and are "purposely designed to deliver harmful weight loss content to users who are already struggling with body image," such as advertisements for dangerous supplements, said Dr. Austin.
April 28, 2021, 9:49 a.m. ET
When should you be concerned?
With so many forces contributing to teenage dissatisfaction and eating disorders, how do parents know when to worry?
Parents should be alarmed, said Dr. Kaye, "when your child suddenly loses 10 to 20 pounds, keeps the food a secret, or when you see the food go away," as what, how, and when to eat is common in anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders.
Experts agree that adults should look out for behaviors that deviate from previous norms, such as: For example, suddenly skipping family meals or refusing to eat foods from whole categories such as carbohydrates or processed foods. Also of concern is the teenager who develops fixations, such as: B. Careful calorie counting, obsessive exercise, or hoarding food, which can be signs of an eating disorder. Parents should also pay close attention, said Dr. Accurso when teenagers express a lot of guilt or fear about food or eating, or feel unhappy or uncomfortable with their bodies.
According to Dr. Bhatnagar's conception of eating disorder as a "white girl's disease" may discourage non-white teenagers from seeking help or from being properly screened for eating disorders by health professionals, although eating disorders are common in both sexes and all ethnicities .
"Boys have the same problems," said Dr. Bhatnagar, "but straight boys may speak slightly differently about body image." You tend to keep fit, get lean, or be muscular. "
Dr. Austin also noted that eating disorders are common among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents of all genders, as well as young people with transgender and gender differences.