Girls as young as 6 years old suffering from anorexia & it's frightening!

Is it possible that for anorexia to begin as early as kindergarten? I cringed when I read Sophie's story about how she showed signs of an eating disorder at the age of six--strategically eliminated sweets, decreased what she ate, and started exercising like crazy on the monkey bars. Though her weight was normal, by the time she was seven, Sophie exhibited signs of malnutrition. Those signs include feeling dizzy, constipation, and feeling itchy. It's pretty crazy that by the time Sophie was 7, she was formally diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.


Sophie, a growing girl, had not gained even a pound in that year! It wasn't because she was a picky eater. Sophie made a startling confession: "Mommy, I have a problem ... I am hungry all the time and I can't eat. A voice in my head is telling me not to eat."

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Imagine having that conversation with your grammar school-aged daughter. What do you do? Who's to blame, if anyone? How seriously do you take that information?

I always worry when my teenage niece, who is very slender, says she's fat or makes a comment about her weight. This is, after all, an age in which people call model Kate Upton fat. Of course my niece, her classmates, and other young women are going to feel the pressure to be thin to feel beautiful and accepted.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the number of hospitalizations due to an eating disorder in my niece's age group happens in greater numbers--there were 5,749 in 2009. However, hospitalizations for children under 12 jumped by 72 percent between 1999 and 2009.  

One of the side effects of limiting the food supply of a growing child is stalling their cognitive development and possible death. It's sad to hear about girls like Sophie because they will be fighting those thoughts far earlier in life and for much longer. Let's make sure our daughters, nieces, all the girls in our lives know about the danger of this disease and foster a positive self-image at all times! It might save their lives.

Image via Thinkstock

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