Eating disorder information for parents in dorset

Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating are all eating disorders which affect young people of any sex or background.  Young people with anorexia nervosa limit the amount of food they eat by skipping meals and rigidly controlling what they will and will not eat. Their concern about food weight and calories can take over their lives and they can become seriously ill.

Young people with bulimia will also think constantly about food but they become caught in a cycle of eating large amounts of food and then making themselves sick or take large amounts of laxatives to try to lose the calories that they have eaten.  This is called purging by doctors.  Young people with a binge eating disorder will eat large amounts of food over a short period of time and tend to put on weight.  Some young people can have a mixture of all three disorders.

Eating disorders are often used by young people as a way to try to cope with difficult feelings like anger, sadness, guilt and extremely negative body image.  There are many things that your child might experience whilst growing up that could make them doubt themselves, their self worth and their abilities.  If you suspect that your child has an eating disorder, although difficult, it is really important to talk about it as it will not go away by itself.  When you do talk about it try and prepare what you want to say first and how you will say it.


•  Young people with eating disorders are at risk of quite serious long lasting health problems including infertility, dental problems, bone problems and diabetes.  In extreme cases and without treatment eating disorders can be fatal

•  Young people with eating disorders may feel ill and miss a lot of school or be unable to concentrate in school

•  Young people with an eating disorder commonly have experienced bullying, or feel under extreme pressure at school, or be worried about their sexuality

•  Young people with eating disorders may search the internet for websites that offer advice and support but instead be exposed to harmful messages promoting eating disorders from the huge numbers of websites dedicated to the subject

Warning signs:

Some of these behaviours are normal, but several of the warning signs seen together may be an indication that your child is at risk. For help and advice contact one of the organisations listed

•  Preoccupation with body or weight and obsession with calories food and nutrition
•  Constant dieting, even when thin
•  Rapid, unexplained weight loss or weight gain
•  Compulsive exercising
•  Making excuses to get out of eating or avoiding social situations that involve food
•  Going to the bathroom right after meals
•  Eating alone, at night or in secret and hoarding high calorie food
•  Feeling excessively cold
•  Changes in hair, skin and irregular or stopped periods

Where to get help:

Speak to your GP or any other health professional that knows your child such as a school nurse.


For further information:

Visit for information about child and adolescent mental health services

Parentline Plus: A national charity providing free, 24 hour help/ support. Visit  or call 0808 800 22 22


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Eating Disorders Obesity