EARLY YEARS: Loss of interest in activities, preoccupation with food among signs of eating disorder

Carilion doctors say it won’t be until after the pandemic that we know its full impact on eating disorders
Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 6:43 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -Among the issues the pandemic has aggravated are eating disorders.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, its helpline has seen a 40% jump in calls since March of last year.

For people who are biologically predisposed to eating disorders, quarantine can make the condition worse.

Dr. Anita Kumar with Carilion Clinic Psychiatry says we won’t likely know the pandemic’s full impact on eating disorders until it’s over.

“Simply because eating disorders are a low-intensity condition and something people really don’t want anyone to know about,” says Dr. Kumar.

Social media can also contribute to the problem, especially in kids and teenagers..

There’s a petition on, asking TikTok to stop showing videos that promote eating disorders.

Recently, TikTok announced it would work to do just that.

“It’s always great when social media or media of any kind are being mindful about promoting healthy body image and hopefully, a healthier relationship with food and eating,” says Dr. Katherine Liebesny, Carilion Clinic Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Program

So, how do you know if your child is suffering from an eating disorder?

Among the possible signs:

An increased preoccupation with food, especially its nutritional content and calories

A loss of interest in activities and socialization

The need to withhold food and then binge, as a way to alleviate anxiety or calm down

Dr. Kumar says body shaming doesn’t change bad diet behaviors.

“By shaming, it actually induces that behavior. It’s a proponent that pushes someone towards that behavior,” she says.

She stresses expressing kindness, compassion and encouragement are better ways to support your child’s overall wellness and healthy body image.

For more information about eating disorders, contact the National Eating Disorders Association.

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