When adolescents and children show signs of not wanting to eat, parents sometimes credit it to petty tantrums or just the child being picky about food. But these might be symptoms of eating disorders which commonly develop during adolescence. The impact might be lifelong and therefore, early recognition and treatment is needed.
Eating disorders are complicated and effect bio-psychosocial health of the patient. Serious short-term consequences may include cardiac complications such as bradycardia and arrhythmia, significant electrolyte abnormalities including those due to re-feeding syndrome, as well as syncope and dehydration. Long-term complications include compromised bone health, infertility, as well as mental health sequelae. The mortality rate for anorexia nervosa is five to six per cent, which is the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.
There are diagnostic criteria for eating disorders and the various subtypes, however these conditions can present with a range of symptoms and signs, especially in children and adolescents.