One in 10 U.S. Teens Use Unhealthy Behaviors to Lose Weight

As Swimsuit Season Turns Focus to Body Image, Eating Recovery Center Offers Parents Recommendations to Address Increased Risk of Eating Disorders in Teenagers Nearly 11 percent of 9th to 12th grade students in the U.S. have gone without eating for 24 hours or more; 5 percent have taken diet pills, powders or liquids; and 4 percent have vomited or taken laxatives – all to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight – according to 2009 data from the Centers for Disease Control. Eating Recovery Center (, a national center for eating disorders recovery, warns that these behaviors can lead to medical complications, nutritional deficiencies and, potentially, a full-fledged eating disorder. “Oftentimes, once teens begin to experiment with these behaviors, it can be difficult to get out of the habit of them, especially if they receive positive feedback from peers and others about the initial weight loss,” explained Ginger Hartman, R.D., registered dietitian at Eating Recovery Center’s Behavioral Hospital for Children and Adolescents. “These types of comments can often influence the teen to continue the behaviors and/or increase the frequency of behaviors. Eventually, the teen may no longer be able to control the behaviors and may find him or herself struggling with a life-threatening eating disorder.” With swimsuit season and teens’ accompanying focus on body image around the corner, it is vital that parents keep an eye out for behaviors that may trigger disordered eating. Hartman offers the following six recommendations for parents who notice their teens engaging in unhealthy food-related behaviors: 1. Better identify what your teen may be struggling with by learning more about eating disorders. 2. Parents should be on the alert for negative changes in attitudes or beliefs. Changes in your teen’s attitude about size or weight, dissatisfaction with his or her body and health consciousness may precede abnormal eating behaviors. 3. Discuss with your teen, in a caring, gentle and non-judgmental way, what you have noticed or observed and why it concerns you. 4. Schedule a medical check-up with a physician who has a background in working with eating disorders. 5. If behaviors persist, seek assistance from an eating disorders clinician and/or a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders. 6. Intervene early. The sooner that intervention occurs, the less likelihood there is for long-term effects or consequences from the behaviors. Earlier intervention can also increase the potential for lasting recovery. Eating Recovery Center’s Behavioral Hospital for Children and Adolescents provides comprehensive eating disorder treatment for children and adolescents – both girls and boys – ages 10 through 17. Focused on empowering families to become agents of change in their children’s recovery, the program is led by a nationally recognized expert in child and adolescent eating disorders, Ovidio Bermudez, MD, FAAP, FSAHM, FAED, CEDS. Learn more about treatment for eating disorders in teenagers and children. About Eating Recovery Center Eating Recovery Center is a national center for eating disorders recovery providing comprehensive treatment for anorexia and bulimia. Denver-based facilities include a licensed behavioral hospital treating adults, an outpatient office and a licensed behavioral hospital treating children and adolescents. Under the personal guidance and care of Drs. Kenneth Weiner, Craig Johnson, Emmett Bishop and Ovidio Bermudez, our collaborative programs provide a full spectrum of services for children, adolescents and adults. Our integrated program offers patients from across the country a continuum of care that includes inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and outpatient services. Our compassionate team of professionals collaborates with treating professionals and loved ones to cultivate lasting behavioral change. For more information please contact us at 877-218-1344 or or confidentially chat live on our website at

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