April 10 2019
When we hear the word “eating disorder” our mind tends to think about significant weight loss through anorexia (restricting food) and bulimia (binging and purging). However, there are many different eating disorders and they can all have severe health consequences. Some eating disorders even lead to significant weight gain. According to research, roughly 13% of adolescent girls (age 20 or younger) meet the criteria for an eating disorder and males represent 25% of the population of individuals who meet the criteria for anorexia. The average age of onset for an eating disorder in girls is 12-13 years old. This means that many of these girls are in the midst of their struggles by the time they enter your classroom. There are several signs and symptoms that a student may be struggling with an eating disorder and some of them have nothing to do with physical appearance. Check out this article on the Toolbox for Educators website to read about the signs and symptoms you should keep an eye out for in your students. The article also points out that if you suspect one of your students may be struggling with an eating disorder, the best way to start a conversation with them about it is by pointing out any non-physical changes in a gentle way. An example the article gives is, “I’ve noticed that you seem quieter and sadder than usual. How is everything going?” Check out the Toolbox for Educators article for more strategies to help you support your students and you should also check out the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website for more information on specific eating disorders. If you have any questions or are concerned about one of your students, please reach out to me!