The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Eating disorders affect more women than men. However, the condition is less understood in men and boys.
SUPPORTING STUDENTS MORE INFORMATION
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa
- Someone with anorexia nervosa worries all the time about being fat (even if they are very thin) and eats very little. In girls, periods become irregular or stop.
- Someone with bulimia nervosa also worries a lot about their weight. They alternate between eating very little, and then having binges when they gorge themselves.
- Bulimia sufferers vomit or take laxatives to control their weight.
Causes of eating disorders
- Worry or stress may lead to comfort eating.
- Low self esteem.
- Puberty, anorexia can reverse or halt the physical changes linked to puberty.
- Control- losing weight can elicit feelings of being in control.
- Anorexia or bulimia can develop as a complication of more extreme dieting, perhaps triggered by an upsetting event, such as family break-down, death or separation in the family, bullying at school or abuse.
- More ordinary events, such as the loss of a friend, a teasing remark or school exams, may also be the trigger in a vulnerable person.
- The condition is less understood in men and boys, who may not get the support then need due to steriotyping.
Symptoms of eating disorders
- Significant weight loss or gain.
- Continuous dieting even when underweight.
- Fear of weight gain.
- Persistent preoccupation with food/eating/weight.
- Eating while alone or in secret.
- Hidden food or laxatives/diuretics.
- Vomiting – or regularly retiring to the toilet – after meals.
- Frequently running the taps while in the toilet (to cover evidence of vomiting).
- Swollen cheeks and/or bad breath (from vomiting).
- Excessive exercising to burn calories.
- Poor concentration and knowledge retention.
- Reduction in cognitive functioning, for example, abstract thinking,
Treatments for eating disorders
- Most eating disorder cases will be treated on an outpatient basis.
- However, in very severe cases an admission to hospital or specialist inpatient centre may be required.
- Treatment includes refeeding and psycho-social interventions.
- Psychotherapy or counselling.
- Family intervention that directly address the eating disorder should normally be offered as part of the treatment plan.
- Medication may be offered where other symptoms are present, for example, depression or OCD.
- A course of specially designed cognitive behaviour therapy may be offered.
Supporting students with eating disorder
- Addressing whole school issues of bullying, perfectionism and social isolation can help reduce some of the underlying triggers that may lead to Eating Disorders in some young people.
- Transition from primary to secondary school and from school to university are high risk times for sufferers of Eating Disorders. Be proactive in discussing available support.
- Review PSHE or personal development programmes so that issues related to body image, social media, and peer pressure are explored.
Medical treatment plans
- Liaise with parents/ carers/medical professionals regarding the young person’s treatment plan. Support at mealtimes may be requested. The medical team may provide guidance on PE and physical activity.
- If treatment requires home rest or a hospital admission liaise promptly with parents/carers and the hospital school/tuition staff.
Support for learning
- The ability to focus and concentrate may be impaired. Provide shorter tasks and check for understanding before moving on.
- Students may feel overwhelmed if they are unable to work as effectively as when they were well. Offer reassurance that their cognitive abilities will improve as they work towards recovery.
- Discuss a reduction in subjects for a period so that they can focus on doing well in some subjects. This may reduce anxiety for some students.
Young people have helped to create this site, they have made suggestions, sent in articles and are constantly reviewing the site. Eating Disorders in men and boys. Information from the Charity BEAT Understanding body image resource from First Steps ED Charity
Young people have helped to create this site, they have made suggestions, sent in articles and are constantly reviewing the site.
Eating Disorders in men and boys. Information from the Charity BEAT
Understanding body image resource from First Steps ED Charity