More and more young people suffer from anorexia

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More and more young people suffer from anorexia. Every fifth adolescent suffers from eating disorders

More and more young people suffer from eating disorders up to anorexia. According to the director of the Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University Hospital Münster, every fifth adolescent between the ages of 11 and 17 lies at the University Hospital Münster, Prof. Dr. Tilman Fürniss, and the senior physician Dr. Annabel Köchling suspected of an eating disorder.

The doctors at the Münster University Hospital have introduced a new therapeutic approach to counteract the growing problem of eating disorders among adolescents. Again and again, adolescents with extreme deficiency symptoms and anorexia are admitted to the clinic for child and adolescent psychiatry. Prof. Tilman Fürniss reports on an 18-year-old patient who weighed 29 kilograms when she was admitted to the clinic. “An extreme case” of anorexia, as the clinic director admitted. However, a tendency towards pathological eating disorders can generally be observed among adolescents, explained Dr. Fürniss: "The number and severity of eating disorders has been increasing for some time."

Eating disorders increasingly common among adolescents The average age of patients with eating disorders has also shifted significantly, the expert explained. While only a few decades ago mostly adolescent patients between the ages of 14 and 16 were affected, today nine-year-olds in some cases already suffer from eating disorders, the clinic director emphasized. Overall, one in five adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17 are suspected of having an eating disorder, said Prof. Fürniss. In the course of puberty between 14 and 17 years, even every third girl and every seventh boy is affected, whereby “boys too” are increasingly suffering from eating disorders. Because their personality is often not yet firmly established and "they emulate the ideal of slimming in society" that is celebrated by stars and starlets every day, many young people develop a strong urge to lose weight. This often ends in a corresponding disturbance in eating behavior that can easily turn into anorexia, the expert explained.

Anorexia: A life-threatening addiction Anorexia should not be underestimated or dismissed as a temporary quirk, "It is an addiction that can be fatal." Because young people who are getting thinner not only lose body weight, but also the brain breaks down substance, the expert explained. "It shrinks by 20 to 30 percent and completely ceases to function in some areas," says Dr. In addition, effects on the cardiovascular system and growth are also possible. Cardiac arrest or growth arrest are not uncommon, the expert explained. For example, the 18-year-old patient, who only weighed 29 kilos when she was admitted, was only 1.46 meters tall, the clinic director emphasized. According to the expert, those affected often go out of their way to make sure that their massive underweight does not attract the attention of relatives and friends, they conceal wherever possible. Thick sweaters or even lead weights in the shoes - "there are no limits to your ingenuity," emphasized Dr. "It is shocking for many parents when they see their daughter or son in their undershirt for the first time in our clinic," the expert continues. The parents of anorexia nervosa are often not recognized as such and instead assume that they have educational problems or the like until they are confronted with the painful truth, explained the doctors of the clinic for child and adolescent psychiatry.

New therapeutic approach against eating disorders A new therapeutic approach to combat eating disorders was therefore introduced at the University Clinic in Münster. According to the director Dr. Fürniss pioneers the fight against anorexia. Six to seven people, including families, come together in the clinic for child and adolescent psychiatry 25 days a year to learn how to deal with the disease. Dr. believes that the family is more involved. A major step forward in therapy. Because "eating disorders are not only life-threatening diseases in extreme cases, they also affect and burden every family life," explained the expert. So it is also a goal of the new therapy to solve the often "highly destructive family conflicts at an early stage in a specialist-therapeutic manner", emphasized Dr. (fp)

Also read:
Do diets promote eating disorders?
Bulimia (bulimia nervosa; addiction to eating and vomiting)

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