Adolescence can be a very stressful time when people begin gaining independence and discovering who they are. The teen years are when people establish new friendships and also when they find that their body has begun to develop. When a person enters puberty, it can be a very stressful, confusing and frightening period.
A lucky few can make the transition from childhood to adulthood with no major problems. However, many who may develop a teen eating disorder as a way to cope with these changing times.
A teen eating disorder may cause someone to worry that the weight that he or she is gaining will become permanent. This can cause panic and desperate efforts to prevent or shed any weight gain. Teens may be ignorant of the fact that these physical changes will ease with time and that their weight will stabilize without the need for dieting. The teen eating disorder may also be attributed to going through puberty which is a testing time, especially if the teenager also has to undergo sexual advances.
In addition, teens may be under great pressure to perform and excel. Pressure to conform to society's 'ideal' body image may lead to eating disorders. Teens see touched up pictures of models and assume they must look the same way. In an effort to become thin, teens may develop anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders. Many teens think that being thin leads to happiness, which can be a strong factor in eating disorders.
Another important factor that may contribute to a teen eating disorder is the home environment. Teens who are subject to emotional, physical, or sexual abuse may develop eating disorders to have control over some aspect of their lives. Teen eating disorders may also help block out painful feelings.
Schools and families can play an active role in preventing teen eating disorders. By teaching teens and families about the warning signs and problems with eating disorders, we may be able to prevent or quickly treat cases of anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders. Educators can also be trained to build self-esteem and show teens that they don't have to develop an eating disorder to be successful or beautiful. Through education, prevention, and good treatment, we can get a handle on teen eating disorders.