The eating habits of children and adolescents change constantly during the course of development can go through different phases. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to assess eating behaviour correctly and to distinguish an eating disorder from a "normal" phase. Eating disorders in childhood and adolescence can manifest themselves in different ways and are very multifaceted. Girls are generally more often affected than boys.
- Anorexia Nervosa (anorexia)
This disease is characterized by the strong desire to reduce body weight and to be "thin". Those affected avoid eating high-calorie foods, exercise excessively and are usually underweight. Nevertheless, there is often a distorted perception of the body in which those affected feel "too fat" despite their low weight. Anorexia can lead to various physical consequences, such as the absence of menstruation, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disorders.
- Bulimia nervosa (bulimia)
Children and adolescents suffering from Bulimia Nervosa often suffer from cravings or binging/overeating attacks, in which large amounts of mostly high-calorie food are eaten in a short period of time. However, since those affected are also very afraid of possible consequential weight gain, counter-regulating behaviours that are supposed to reduce the weight are used, e.g. self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise or drug abuse (e.g. laxatives). This behaviour is often accompanied by strong feelings of shame and disgust and concealed from others. Bulimia can lead to long-term psychological and physical complications, e.g. tooth, stomach or heart problems.
- Binge eating disorder
With binge eating disorder, sufferers experience regular, uncontrolled eating attacks in which large amounts of high-calorie food are consumed in a short period of time. However, this is not followed by a compensatory behavior as in the case of bulimia nervosa. Often, however, tremendous feelings of shame or disgust, anger and a sense of loss of control arise. Binge eating disorders often lead to obesity and associated health problems as well as severe psychological stress.