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Study Focus on the Need for Vigilance in Two Key Areas Among Adolescents

eded calories.

"They may not be less than 85 percent of their ideal body weight according to a standard growth chart," she said, "but it's very possible that, without their eating disorder, they would have been significantly taller and heavier." It's also sometimes difficult to tell whether young children display the same kind of disordered body image disturbance as older children with eating disorders, who often proclaim themselves "fat" or "disgusting."

"Young kids may truly not know why they don't want to eat," said Peebles. "They just don't want to be bigger." As a result, more than 60 percent of patients younger than 13 are diagnosed with an "Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified," or EDNOS.

Other surprises of the research include the facts that younger patients were more likely to be male than those older than 13, and that one in five patients younger than 13 had experimented with vomiting as a weight-loss technique.

"Pediatricians and parents shouldn't think of weight loss, or even lack of weight gain in a pre-teen, as a phase," cautioned Peebles. "If a child expresses wanting to lose weight, take it seriously."

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