Fox59 Investigates: Teens hiding eating disorders from parents, doctors

Achieving the dream of losing weight and having a model figure can be dangerous and in some cases, deadly. FOX59 investigates the problems of teens developing eating disorders before parents and doctors even realize it’s a problem.

In this day and age, some teen girls would kill for the awesome figure showed off by models and beauty queens – one that top designers would love to have walking the runways with their latest fashion. For most girls, it can begin as early as middle school.

Kristi Hardin’s weight loss dream started with a calorie counting lesson in science class.

“It started out very innocently where I just wanted to lose a few pounds to fit in with my friends,” said Hardin.

The compliments kept coming as her weight kept dropping. Her goal to lose a few pounds quickly turned in to an uncontrollable nightmare. It was an eating disorder!

“Over the course of four to five months, I went from almost 150 lbs. down to 95 lbs.,” said Hardin, “I had to get better or I was going to die.”

New research done by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota says problems like eating disorders may not be diagnosed right away, because parents and doctors can sometimes mistake weight loss for healthy living.

“Some of the teens have them for as long as a year or two years or longer before anybody catches on, because they can be very secretive in nature,” said Dr. Anne Lewis with IU Health.

Dr. Lewis is at the Charis Center for Eating Disorders. She says parents need to watch for extreme weight loss, obsession over what foods to eat and being extreme over portion sizes. She reminds her own kids that the picture of a perfect body may not be real.

“They happened to see somebody on the billboard that looks fantastic and they might say ‘I wish I look like that.’ Sometimes I’ll comment back, ‘I bet you she does too’, because she’s photoshopped,” said Dr. Lewis.

Kristi Hardin used to feel that way, and she almost died. Now, she is recovered and happy. Through the group Girls Nite In International, she empowers girls to live a healthy lifestyle and be happy with what they are given.

“Don’t compare yourself to others, you are you for a reason, and that’s okay, and just be you and be content,” said Hardin.

Parents, this may not be an easy thing to detect. Studies show 6 percent of teens have an eating disorder, but many more either haven’t been diagnosed or are just keeping it to themselves.

If you think your child may need help, or if you just want healthy living tips, go to www.girlsniteininternational.org.

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