Is considered to be obese at 200 pounds

The 200 Pound Anorexia: Obese Teens At Risk For Disorder, But It Is Often Not Recognized

Hear “anorexia” and think thin young women - creepy-thin runway models with emaciated figures. But an overlooked group of young people also struggle with anorexia: overweight and even obese children.

Adolescents with a history of obesity are at "significant risk" for developing anorexia, says Dr. Leslie A. Sim, clinical director of the Mayo Clinic's eating disorder program, in a recent paper in Pediatrics. But because of their size, their symptoms often go undetected and untreated, Sim says.

“It's harder to see that you have an eating disorder because we think you should be on a diet; the doctor told them to go on a diet, "says Sim, who has collected some unpublished data suggesting that about 35 percent of anorexic patients at the Mayo Clinic have a history of obesity and that, on average, they have eating disorders have been unidentified for about 11 months longer than their smaller peers.

Most people will likely be surprised or even skeptical to hear that a child struggling with obesity can also be anorexic, says Lynn Grefe, president of the National Eating Disorders Association. But they shouldn't be: an estimated 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives, Grefe says.

Going too far, the anti-obesity exercise can mean focusing on thin instead of fat, rather than healthy or unhealthy, which can lead to eating disorders in some children, Sim and Grefe agree. Teaching habits like counting calories or avoiding carbohydrates or listing that “good” food and that “bad” food can all too easily slip into the obsessive eating habits associated with eating disorders in children at risk, Grefe says.

And that may be especially true for overweight or obese children who are implicitly or explicitly told by almost every adult in their life that they are not who they are. "So they just do what they're told, but it's getting out of hand," says Sim. "I think these kids are almost more at risk because the messages they get don't get a normal-weight child."

When Ali Hougnou was a young child, she was a normal weight. But after her parents divorced when she was nine, she used food to try to calm her heartache. She had been gaining weight for years, weighing 200 pounds by the age of 15. At 5'5 ", that is your body mass index - a way of measuring body fat with height and weight - at 33. (A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.)

She tried dieting and exercise, but nothing lost her weight until the summer before 10th grade when she spent some time with her godmother in Spokane, Washington. It was like a random fat lager: she ate the same healthy,…8/index.html Your hosts have dealt with organic food, and they were in Free and as active as they lived, and easily lost 15 pounds. At home, her classmates finally stopped teasing her about her weight; Instead, they started complimenting her. "And the more people told her how great she looked, the more she stopped eating," says her mother, Tammy Carlisle of Long Island, NY.

In the second year of her degree, Hougnou lost nearly 40 percent of her body weight. She felt weak and dizzy all day, and at one point she was only eating 80-calorie cups of non-fat yogurt: one for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner. She was wasted, but no one seemed to care that she wasn't fat anymore.

"For everyone else, and even for myself, I was just dieting," says Hougnou. “I did exactly what the doctor wanted. The pediatricians were so pleased with my weight loss. "

Because we have the idea that "any weight loss is good for an obese person, no matter what - even if the person doesn't eat, or cleanse, or vomit all day," says Sim. "I also think what happens is (Pediatricians) are so distracted by their perceived responsibility to prevent obesity in their patients that they are like, "Oh, that's great, you lose weight," and they don't ask, "Well, how do you lose weight?"

Hougnous therapist advised her mother that the teen was showing some signs of eating disorders, although there were no outward signs - she was a healthy size 4. Around the same time, the girl's best friend told the school principal, who then told Hougnou's mother that Hougnou was Her locker is stocked with all kinds of diet items: diet pills, "juice cleanse" drinks, diuretics.

Carlisle soon took her daughter to an eating ward clinic, but the teenager didn't understand why she was there. “I started crying, no, you have to confuse me,” recalls Hougnou. “I was in direct denial that it could ever be me because my image was of an eating disorder like Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie - you know, skin and bones. And technically I was a healthy weight. "

It was a total whiplash for the teenager. "They just encouraged me to eat, in essence," she says. “You are telling me now that after years, years and years I have to say that I have to lose weight - now do I have to stop? You're funny. That's a joke. "

Her messy eating started about nine months before she started treatment; Like many children who were previously addicted to weight loss, she began to take care of her illness, dangerously ill. By the time an eating disorder has time to take root in a person's head, it's a much longer, harder struggle to get those habits under control. The uncontrolled months of malnutrition can even cause permanent brain damage, Sim says, and the disease can be fatal: 4 percent of anorexic patients die from the disease.

Hougnous anorexia got much worse before getting better, but she is now a healthy weight, despite the fact that her recovery took nearly eight years and multiple hospitalizations. She is now 22 years old and a senior at Utah Valley University, studying psychology, and eventually wants to work on eating disorders treatment. She previously founded the Utah chapter of Project HEAL, a non-profit that raises funds to help treat people with eating disorders.

“Nobody really talks about this side of things,” she says. "I would have appreciated if someone had taken the time to connect with me and understand why it was so important to properly feed my body."

Of course, not every overweight or obese child who loses weight has an eating disorder. Grefe says children struggling with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or depression are more likely to develop an eating disorder, especially if they are teased at school.

Parents of an overweight child might feel a little tied up at this point: How do you encourage a child to lose weight without pushing them over the edge to become irritated? Eating disorders specialists say the key is to focus on health, not weight. Have dinner together as a family and take a walk after dinner.

“It does things for fun, not to lose weight. Doing things to stay healthy, not stay thin, ”says Grefe. “It's healthy in your own size; it teaches children to be comfortable in their own skin. "