In the past decade, a growing number of children and adolescents have been diagnosed with eating disorders. In a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "Identification and Management of Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents," published in the December 2010 issue of Pediatrics (published online Nov. 29), it is estimated that 0.5 percent of adolescent girls in the United States have anorexia nervosa, and 1 percent to 2 percent meet criteria for bulimia nervosa.
There is an increasing recognition of eating disorders in males, which now represent up to 10 percent of all cases of eating disorders, as well as in children of younger ages.
A recent analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality revealed that from 1999 to 2006, hospitalizations for eating disorders in children under 12 years of age increased by 119 percent.
The clinical report suggests pediatricians be familiar with early detection and proper evaluation of patients suspected of having a disorder. Because medical complications of eating disorders can affect any organ system, pediatricians should monitor patients for medical or nutritional problems, and ensure appropriate treatment options including medical care, mental health treatment and nutritional intervention.