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Eating disorders increasing among pre-adolescent girls

November 27th, 2005
newsweek anorexia cover story

Anorexia and other eating disorders are typically associated with teenagers and college women. However, a growing number of pre-adolescent girls as young as 9 years old are being diagnosed with eating disorders severe enough to require professional treatment.

The upcoming issue of Newsweek features an extensive cover article, “Fighting Anorexia”, which profiles several of these younger patients:

When 12-year-old Erin Phillips, who lives outside Baltimore, was in her downward spiral, she stopped eating butter, then started eating with chopsticks, then refused solid food altogether, says her mother, Joann. Within two months, Erin’s weight had slipped from 70 to 50 pounds. “Every day, I’d watch her melt away,” Joann says. Before it struck her daughter, Joann had been dismissive about the disease. “I used to think the person should just eat something and get over it. But when you see it up close, you can’t believe your eyes. They just can’t.”

David Rosen, a specialist in eating disorders from the University of Michigan says:

Seven years ago “the idea of seeing a 9- or 10-year-old anorexic would have been shocking and prompted frantic calls to my colleagues. Now we’re seeing kids this age all the time…”

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