Norton Children’s doctor speaks about supporting kids with eating disorders on Thanksgiving
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As families prepare for Thanksgiving, parents should be mindful of eating disorder warning signs and how to avoid worsening a child’s relationship with food.
Plenty of holiday traditions revolve around food, but for some, the focus on meals, can have a negative impact. Norton Children’s Hospital has seen more kids and teens hospitalized for eating disorders in recent years.
“Disordered eating, for example, happens more often in teens than most people realize and can take lots of shapes and forms,” Dr. Brittany Badal, Norton Children’s Adolescent Medicine, said. “So, if we don’t always know if that’s going on with someone, it’s best to think about the other positive things that they’re doing in their lives and connecting with them in a different way.”
In 2019, the hospital saw about 50 kids for eating disorders. In three years, the number of young patients has almost tripled. Norton’s Children saw nearly 120 kids for eating disorders in 2022.
“If someone does reach out to you and says ‘Hey, this is a really hard time for myself’ or for a loved one, being really open and not questioning so much what’s going on with them, but just thinking how I can best support them and trying to stay away, again, from making comments about food or physical appearances can sometimes be the most supportive thing we can do in their lives,” Dr. Badal said.
Norton Children’s specialists say simple comments at family gatherings can make a big impact on kids who are struggling. Experts say one of the most supportive things people can do is to not comment on someone’s physical appearance or the food they eat.
If you feel your child may be struggling with an eating disorder, Norton Children’s recommends reaching out to their pediatrician for help.
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