YOUR HEALTH: Increase in teen binge eating after COVID

Teens may have a sudden change in foods they like to eat, or avoid family meals all together.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 4:32 AM CDT|Updated: May. 11, 2023 at 7:03 AM CDT
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Eating disorders increased in teens and young adults during the pandemic. By some studies, the rates of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder were up by 15 percent, and despite life returning somewhat to normal, researchers say binge eating is still a problem for teens.

An extreme obsession with weight and body image. Eating disorders, especially binge eating, increased among young people during COVID lockdowns and it’s not getting better.

Yale School of Medicine clinical psychologist, Janet Lydecker, Ph.D. emphasizes, “It’s been stressful for kids to go back to school. They’re in a different setting. They’ve missed a year, sometimes two years, of being in person with their peers, and that’s stressful.”

During a binge, teens consume large amounts of food in a short period of time - as many as one to two thousand calories in one or two hours. The binge is usually followed by feelings of extreme shame or guilt. Lydecker says parents can watch for signs of secretive eating.

“It can be finding wrappers and evidence that the kid has maybe gone to a convenience store and picked up a bunch of snacks on their own. Going to a fast food restaurant, but then eating in the parking lot or going to the convenience store, but eating on the way home,” Lydecker explains.

Teens may have a sudden change in foods they like to eat, or avoid family meals all together. Lydecker says parents should be supportive and look for professional help.

Lydecker adds, “We want to catch eating disorders as young as possible and as quickly after they emerge as possible.”

Lydecker says cognitive behavior therapy is effective in helping teens regain healthy eating habits.

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