The Hidden Cause Behind Teen Binge Eating Disorders


Teen eating disorders are steadily increasing in the United States. Teen girls are disproportionately effected. According to this study done in 2017 where “researchers followed a group of 496 adolescent girls for 8 years, until they were 20, they found that 5.2% of the girls met criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. When the researchers included nonspecific eating disorder symptoms, a total of 13.2% of the girls had suffered from a DSM-5 eating disorder by age 20.

Today, Binge Eating Disorder is the most common in the United States, affecting three times the amount of people than anorexia and bulimia combined.

Does My Teen Daughter Have a Binge Eating Disorder?

Symptoms of teen binge eating disorder include:

  • excessively overeating
  • eating large amounts even when they aren’t hungry
  • feelings of being out of control of how much they eat in one sitting
  • isolating themselves when eating due to shame of how much they’re eating
  • not taking any measures to mitigate the overeating (starving themselves, laxatives, etc)

Teen binge eating can have long term health consequences, such as high cholesterol levels, heart disease, and high levels of emotional distress.

Teen Anxiety and Binge Eating

You might have already noticed this, but your teen’s binge eating disorder is linked to their emotions. When a teen feels out of control emotionally, excessive overeating habits can become their coping mechanism to take their mind off of how they feel. Binge eating lets them focus on physical discomfort instead of emotional discomfort. Most commonly, anxiety is often the hidden cause behind teenage binge eating disorders.

  • Can you think of a time when you felt very anxious?
  • If so, where did you feel the anxiety in your body?
  • Did you feel it in your stomach?

If the answer is yes, then you can understand why your teen has developed a binge eating pattern as a coping mechanism to deal with their anxiety. It’s a way for them to disassociate from their feelings and numb their anxiety. If we can get to the root of their anxiety, we can help teens with eating disorders stop their binge eating behavior patterns.

Protect Your Teenage Daughter from Eating Disorders

Some of the best ways to prevent your teen daughter from developing an eating disorder is to have conversations with them about:

  • healthy coping strategies
  • media messages about food and bodies
  • instill habits that build self esteem

Additionally, teens benefit from having a supportive community of peers, mentors and family members to support them to feel good about themselves. The more you encourage your teen daughter to surround herself with friends that are emotionally healthy and supportive of healthy habits, the easier it will be for her to have a healthy relationship with her body and the food she puts in it.

If your teen daughter is already struggling with anxiety and/or binge eating, she may need more help than she’s able to receive at home. Our therapeutic boarding school for girls may be able to help. Give us a call today at 1-877-788-8422

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