Restrictive behaviors can appear before puberty
Researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital are warning parents that difficult eaters could have underlying psychological issues, as they have found that restrictive behaviours can appear before puberty. “Many researchers believe that bulimia only appears at adolescence, but our studies indicate that the problem can arises much earlier. It is possible that it is currently under-diagnosed due to a lack of awareness and investigation,” explained clinical psychologist and Professor Dominique Meilleur, who led the study. The findings, presented yesterday evening at the Eating Disorders Association of Canada conference in Vancouver, raise questions about the way eating disorders develop and are diagnosed.
Meilleur and her colleagues Olivier Jamoulle, Danielle Taddeo and Jean-Yves Frappier came to their conclusions by studying the psychological, socio-demographic and physiological characteristics of 215 eight to twelve year olds with eating problems. Kids with physical issues that could cause eating problems, such as diabetes or cystic fibrosis, were excluded from the study. The researchers found that the children often suffered from other problems: in particular, anxiety and mood disorders and attention deficiency. “More than 15.5% of the children in the study made themselves vomit occasionally and 13.3% presented bulimic behaviours. These results are very concerning but they may help clinicians reach a diagnosis earlier by enabling them to investigate these aspects,” Meilleur said. Treatment of these conditions should start as early as possible.