Experts in the field say that millions of men, women and children across the country have an eating disorder, including a growing number of teenagers who have "bought in" to the concept that thin is in.
Compounding the problem is that teens and their parents get peppered frequently with the fact that teen obesity is also a growing social problem in the United States.
The experts agree that the focus must be on promoting awareness and letting people know it's a serious illness, but one that can be resolved with proper therapy, and complete medical and mental evaluation.
Among the warning signs and symptoms of eating disorders include:
* Not eating at all
* Excessive exercising
* Alcohol and drug abuse
* Severe weight loss
* Hair loss and headaches
When a person is faced with these circumstances, it is easy to surround the issue with denial because parents tend to want their children to be thin, which they associate with good health. As a result, parents may not be alarmed as long as it appears the child has healthy habits, when in actuality that child could be getting insufficient nutrition.
When approaching someone with an eating disorder, it is important for families to communicate their concerns in a loving and non-confrontational way. Eating disorders typically become worse without treatment and the physical and emotional damage can be severe.
If you know someone with an eating disorder, encourage them to seek help and see a physician, as early intervention is key to resolving the problem.
Additionally, parents should not hesitate to communicate with their children, and teach them about positive body image, proper nutrition, and healthy eating habits.