Eating Disorder in under 12’s

Eating disorders in children under 12


We mainly think of teenagers and ages above,  developing eating disorders but the number of under 12-year olds with the disorder, has been growing in recent years.


Researchers are not sure what causes eating disorders but know what potentially could increase the risk of developing one :-

Inherited from a relative or sibling

Children with chronic illness, such as insulin-dependent diabetes.

Children with depression, anxiety or other mental illness.


There are a few common types of eating disorders in Children.


Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

This includes a lack of interest in food or a child suddenly becoming averse to the texture of a food they used to like. They also may become afraid of getting sick from a certain food or vomiting.


Pica is a condition is where a child might eat non-food or non-nutritional substances such as dirt, soap, chalk, sand, ice and hair.  This does not include a child still at the chewing stage.

Anorexia nervosa

In this form, children think they are overweight when they are really underweight. They become controlling over their food intake and might exercise intensively or even binge and purge.


The early warning signs are :-


Fear of stomach aces, aversion to tastes or textures, tantrums, excessive bowel movements and a concern about their own body image.


How are these disorders treated in young children?

The most important factor is to help the children to regain weight so that their physical and nutritional health is restored.  Families are important to intervene and help expose their children to healthy food options and obviously seek further medical assistance.

There are many tools to use in everyday life to teach your child to have a balanced view on food.

Avoid using food as bribes.

Try not to label food ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Encourage children to explore their uniqueness and not value their physical appearance so much.

Don’t diet around children or mention it.

Allow a child to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full.

Make children aware that the images on TV/Social media etc are all not real.


This is possibly the hardest one to follow with the way our online life is progressing.