UW Health: Eating disorders among youth have nearly doubled since 2019

MADISON, Wis. — Eating disorders among adolescents and young adults have nearly doubled since 2019, according to UW Health experts.

“This is a national trend we are seeing locally as well with patients between the ages of 12 and 18,” UW Health adolescent medicine specialist Dr. Paula Cody said. “It will be important for parents to look for warning signs.”

Dr. Cody said stress from the pandemic caused some adolescents to adopt unhealthy coping strategies.

What’s more, a lack of school-based sports or extracurriculars may have caused some teens with more time on their hands to focus on “getting healthy,” but taking it too far, Dr. Cody said. Increased screen time, especially time spent on social media, can also easily cause young people to develop unrealistic body image expectations.

Dr. Cody said parents and guardians should keep an eye out for changes in eating habits, increased isolation, youth avoiding foods they typically like, making excuses not to eat, and talking about their weight and body.

Simple things like eating together and doing activities as a family can help prevent dangerous eating habits.

Folks should also avoid commenting on someone else’s weight and focus on factors other than appearance when giving compliments.an appearance when giving compliments.