Eating Disorders

As a parent, it can be difficult to recognise whether your child is developing a serious eating disorder – fussy eating is a common part of the development of children. However, there are signs to look out for which will help you determine whether your child needs help, or whether they’re simply trying to establish their likes and dislikes in food.

To learn more, watch our films on Anorexia and Bulimia in children below or read our factsheet.

Watch our Films

Understanding Eating Disorders

Around 1.25 million people in the UK suffer from eating disorders. These disorders can cause serious harm, both physically and emotionally, and they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Early diagnosis, intervention and treatment is critical. To learn details on the different kinds of Eating Disorders, watch this 8-minute film and read the fact sheet.
You can also watch our Real Life Experience 6-minute film Boys Get Anorexia or visit our Eating Disorders page to watch our film on Bulimia.

Read and download our fact sheets, watch more videos or sign up for our mailing list and free interactive guide.

Watch Now

Bulimia in Young People: Susannah’s story

Aged 10 Susannah became worried about her body image leading to dieting, weight loss, self-harm and bulimia. In this 9-minute film she relates her experience with eating disorders. She began to realise that others had similar experiences and how sharing stories helps recovery.

Read and download our fact sheets, watch more videos or sign up for our mailing list and free interactive guide.

Watch Now

Boys get Anorexia too

Eating disorders are more commonly associated with girls. Boys who develop these problems are often misdiagnosed. In this 6-minute film, Jenny Langley, author of ‘Boys Get Anorexia Too’ talks about her experience when her son developed an eating disorder.

Read and download our fact sheets, watch more videos or sign up for our mailing list and free interactive guide.

Watch Now

Further information:

Food can be a way for children and young people to explore their environment and first discover their likes and dislikes, establishing their independence from their caregivers. However, an unhealthy relationship with food can be very dangerous for your child and their development.

It is a common misconception that the changing of weight, either gaining or losing, is the main indication of a child having an eating disorder – it is actually quite a late sign in the development of the mental illness. Early signs of eating disorders are low self-esteem, a child or young person avoiding looking at themselves in the mirror, wearing clothes that cover up most of their body, frequent mood swings, and irregular eating habits or being evasive when discussing food.

If you find stashes of food in your child’s room, or if large amounts of food are missing suddenly without you realising, it could mean that your child is being secretive about their eating habits, which is a strong indication of an eating disorder to look out for. Another sign is if your child often says they’re not hungry or they’ll eat later or if they’re adamant about eating alone in their room. If you are noticing these signs in your child, it is wise to visit your GP and ask about who to refer your child to, as well as asking about support groups for parents caring for someone with an eating disorder.

As a parent, it is important not to overlook the potential of boys developing an eating disorder, as it is commonly believed that the mental illness primarily develops in young teenage girls. It is crucial you are aware of this as a parent and look out for the signs including exercising obsessively, as people believe it is so rare that even health care professionals may not recognise the potential of an eating disorder in young boys.

Eating disorders are treatable and a full recovery is possible. However, an eating disorder may cause permanent damage to the body if it continues over a prolonged period of time.