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“Help! My child won’t eat”. Eating disorders in children and teenagers.

Eating disorders including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorders are serious and complex issues relating to negative body image, weight concerns and disordered eating. Eating disorders are estimated to affect approximately 9% of the Australian population and represent the third most common chronic illness for young females. They can affect children as young as 5 and are equally serious in both girls and boys.

What are some of the consequences of an eating disorder?

Eating disorders can have serious physical and emotional implications and the subsequent effects of starvation can be devastating. Those with an eating disorder may experience dramatic personality changes, fatigue, anxiety, social withdrawal, and extreme preoccupation with food, weight and shape. Medical complications can include tooth decay, loss of menstrual periods, dehydration, osteoporosis (thinning of bones), and in extreme cases, heart failure.

What health professionals treat people with eating disorders?

Due to their complex nature, eating disorders and are best treated with a team of professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, general practitioners (GP), and dietitians. Here at Mater Health and Wellness, our Dietitians are experienced with working with adolescents and their families undergoing treatment for an eating disorder.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” –Hippocrates

How can a Dietitian help?

Restoration of weight and nutritional rehabilitation is essential to aid recovery from an eating disorder and helps to reverse the cognitive and physical effects of starvation and restrictive eating, including fatigue and low mood. Dietetic intervention and support is a vital component in the treatment of eating disorders. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team (such as a GP or psychologist), the experienced dietitian is the most appropriately qualified person to undertake nutritional assessment and provide education on a range of topics including:

  • how to establish normal eating behaviours and patterns,
  • meal planning and mealtime support,
  • establishing a positive relationship with food,
  • nutritional needs for weight gain and weight maintenance,
  • practical advice to work through any new eating related issues, and
  • dispelling common food myths.

Our dietitians recognise that the road to recovery can be a difficult and challenging time. We will liaise with your child’s GP and counsellor as needed to ensure a consistent approach to treatment. Please call Mater Health and Wellness on 07 3163 6177 and ask us how one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians can help you.

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Level 1, Mater Corporate

Services Building

Raymond Terrace

South Brisbane Qld 4101

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