Watch out for eating disorders in children

By Zuurah karungi

Every parent’s pride is to see their children eat well. However, some children over do it which can lead to weight gain that may result into other serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea among others. Then there are those who refuse to eat. According to Julius Kusemererwa, a medical practitioner, there are three main types of eating disorders.
Binge eating is a condition where a child eats a lot, children with Binge eating disorder feel hungry more often and will take food in large quantities. A child or person consumes large amounts of food in a short time frame.

“Children /people with binge eating disorders cannot control the urge to eat large amounts of food and they tend to become overweight or obese,” he adds.
Anorexia, he says, is where a child refuses food especially that with high levels calories for fear of gaining weight. He notes that this may lead to malnutrition and hence poor health.
“Bulimia is where a child eats abnormally too much and for fear to gain weight, they decide to force it out by intentional vomiting. This is the worst act where a child may develop a disorder of vomiting each they take food,” he says.

According to Gorreti Betty Mbabazi, a nurse and mother, most children have seasons when their appetite is high; this should not be mistaken for over eating unless they do it abnormally. “Just as their appetite shoots up it wanes with time. This happens and should not be a cause for worry unless it is continuous and to the extreme,” Mbabazi advises.
Kusemererwa notes that eating disorders mostly develop during adolescence or early adulthood but can start during childhood too. He says depression could be one of the causes of over eating in children, he/she might eat as a way to forget what is troubling them, and he notes that parents should always be cautious as this could lead to obesity.

Fighting disorders
Annet Nakazibwe, a teacher, notes that as a parent, you should be a good role model for your children by choosing to eat healthy meals and in appropriate portions. She adds that you should also teach your child to make healthy choices for school lunch.
“Have healthy snacks in your home such as fruits, bananas raw vegetables or nuts that a child can feed on and have no effect on the body but rather keeps it fit. These foods should have plenty of low fat proteins, vegetables, whole grains,” she adds.

What to do if it persists
Julius Kusemererwa, a medical practitioner, cautions parents against drastic measures such as denying children food or forcing them to go on a diet. “If you notice a problem with your child’s eating habits, seek medical advice. Children need certain amount of calories and nutrients to grow, develop and learn so denying them food might tamper with this process which. A doctor should be able to tell which foods and in what proportions are enough for the child,” Kusemererwa notes.

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