Teenagers with Eating Disorders

 There are two major types of eating disorders that affect teenagers: Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.

Anorexia Nervosa

Teenagers who refuse to maintain at least 85% of the body weight they are expected to have based on age and height may be considered anorexic.  For example, someone who is expected to weigh 125 pounds refuses to maintain a weight of at least 106 pounds.  Intense fear of gaining weight is also a characteristic of teenagers with anorexia.  These teenagers see themselves as fat or overweight despite being underweight and often deny the seriousness of the health issues associated with being underweight.  Females with anorexia regularly miss periods because their bodies are not healthy enough to produce them.  Contrary to popular belief anorexia is the most deadly mental health disorder with the mortality rate being over 10% and psychological treatment necessarily involving close cooperation with medical professionals.  These teenagers can die of starvation, suicide or electrolyte imbalance.

There are two types of anorexia: the restricting type and the binge-eating/purging type

The only difference being that the restricting type does not engage in binge-eating or purging behaviors like self-induced vomiting or inappropriate use of laxatives.  For the binge-eating/purging type additional health problems involving the acid in the stomach damaging the throat and teeth further complicate the treatment. 

Bulimia Nervosa

The major difference between anorexic and bulimic teenagers is that bulimic teenagers have normal weights and in females their periods are regular.  However, they show similar disordered eating behavior that can include not eating, binging and self-induced vomiting.  Similarly, they experience the negative health effects of consistent vomiting, misuse of laxatives and malnutrition.  Sometimes bulimic teenagers can do serious damage to their bodies by going on unhealthy "diets" that consist of only eating one kind of food for a long time, for example, only eating popcorn for weeks. 


Eating Disorders are the most deadly mental health disorder. Do not take any suspicion you have lightly. Multiple layers of care are required to effectively treat eating disorders. If you believe your teenager has an eating disorder contact your primary care physician in addition to a mental health counselor. Call Miguel Brown if you need advice coordinating care at 786-664-7426. You can also request a Consultation by filling out the form on the right. 

By Miguel Brown