Developmental Perspectives on the Physical Symptoms of Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents

Claire Sadler and Rebecka Peebles

in The Oxford Handbook of Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders: Developmental Perspectives

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199744459
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Developmental Perspectives on the Physical Symptoms of Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents

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Children and adolescents with eating disorders are likely to present with or develop medical complications that require early intervention and treatment. This chapter discusses the most common medical sequelae within each organ system, while focusing on pertinent developmental differences between adult and pediatric populations. Although complications of anorexia nervosa have been relatively well documented, children and adolescents with other eating disorder diagnoses also experience complications and should not be discounted. Complications may include poor cardiac health, bone loss, changes to the endocrine system, loss of menstrual and gonadal function, loss of brain mass, electrolyte imbalances, and vitamin deficiencies. These medical issues may become severe enough as to cause death, and should be taken seriously and treated with urgency. Medical complications are often reversible if addressed quickly and properly. Criteria for hospitalization are also reviewed. Further studies of the medical complications of eating disorders in males, adolescents with chronic illnesses, and in those who have a history of being overweight or have had bariatric surgery are needed.

Keywords: Eating disorders; medical consequences; child; adolescent; presentation; assessment

Article.  16020 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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