Social Pressures Can Lead to Eating Disorders


Tori Kraus

Riley Pruett, Reporter

Anxiety and depression are known issues with America’s youth, but many do not know that stress can also contribute to eating disorders.

Ms. Tori Kraus, the nurse at Bixby High School, says a significant factor to eating disorders among teens is the “pressure of socializing in school.” She says teens with eating disorders usually avoid food, always have an excuse to not eat, drop weight, and have frequent illnesses and absences from school.

In America, 30 million people suffer from eating disorders, with 10 percent of young women having some type of eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

“Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are rapidly increasing among teens,” according to the association. These problems can start with issues involving body image or food trends, run in families and/or be connected to pre-existing mental illnesses.

Anorexia is the loss of a person’s appetite for food and wanting to lose weight by refusing to eat. It’s defined by the distortion of one’s body image and the constant dread of being overweight, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Symptoms of anorexia are stomach cramps, difficulty concentrating, fainting, sleeping issues, bad dental hygiene, dry skin, brittle nails, fine hair and yellow skin.  It tends to affect mostly girls (although boys suffer from it, too) between the ages of 14 to 60, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Bulimia, another serious eating disorder, is characterized by people binging on food followed by severe methods to avoid gaining weight, such as excessive exercise and self-induced vomiting, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Symptoms of bulimia often include constant weight fluctuations, broken blood vessels in the eyes, chronic dehydration, chronic gastric reflux and infertility. It also mostly affects women from the ages 14 to 60, according to Mayo Clinic.

Kraus says some signs to look for in teens suffering from bulimia are overeating, constant snacking, no weight gain, vomiting, bad breath, poor dental hygiene, frequent illnesses and excuses for over-using laxatives.

Kraus recommends that parents who have children suffering from an eating disorder should have direct conversations with them.

“Monitor or be aware of their internet searches because there are websites and chat rooms online to teach people how to have an eating disorder,” says Kraus, adding that parents should not be in denial about what’s happening with their children.

If parents or guardians recognize any signs of eating disorders, they should ask a family physician or pediatrician for a referral to a specialist.