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Parents’ pages: Eating disorders: Not for girls only

Although approximately 90 percent of children with eating disorders are girls, the remaining 10 percent—the boys—are often overlooked. In a study presented at the International Eating Disorders Conference, one researcher compared about 100 boys ages 8 to 19 who had eating disorders with about 1,000 girls in the same age range who had eating disorders. Boys were less likely to have used purging behaviors such as vomiting or taking laxatives. Further, boys were more likely to be diagnosed with an unspecified eating disorder instead of with anorexia. Experts note that, whereas girls complain about being “too fat,” boys often talk about wanting to be more fit or muscular and eating healthier—all acceptable goals that don’t set off any alarms. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight loss or eating patterns, talk to your pediatrician or call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at (800) 931-2237.