Losing weight is like a dream come true for obese people especially the teenagers. Shedding out extra kilos may bring happiness to your face but a recent study cautions you against its aftermath effect.
According to the researchers at Mayo Clinic, overweight teens who lose weight can also be at risk of developing ‘anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa’, i.e. eating disorders.
Adding more worries, the identification and treatment of the condition is often delayed because of the patients’ weight history, researchers say.
“For some reason we are just not thinking that these kids are at risk. We say, ‘Oh boy, you need to lose weight, and that’s hard for you because you’re obese,’ ” says Leslie Sim, clinical director of the eating disorders program at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and lead author of the study.
The case study report was published online on journal Pediatrics.
The researchers carried study on two cases in which teens with a history of obesity developed severe, restrictive eating patterns in the process of losing weight. In both the cases the medical providers failed to track the indications of an eating disorder and it was left untreated for as long as two years despite regular check-ups.
Case 1: A 14-year-old boy who lost 87 pounds in 2 years.
Case 2: An 18-year-old girl who lost 83 pounds in 3 years, going from the 97th percentile for body mass index (BMI) to the 10th percentile.
Symptoms for Case 1 included concentration problems and irritability, cold intolerance, bloating and chest pains.
Symptoms for Case 2 included stress fractures, menstrual problems, hair loss and dizziness, among other problems.
Physicians attributed the symptoms in both the cases to rarer disorders, such as gastrointestinal conditions or polycystic ovary syndrome, says the report.
Both teens “set out to diet, and were both very diligent, eating fewer than 1,500 calories a day, running and doing other intense activities to lose weight in a very driven way,” says Sim. Each lost a “massive amount of weight very quickly. They were not binging, not throwing up. It was simply from having a very low-(calorie) intake.”
About 6% of youths suffer from eating disorders, according to a 2011 study in the Archives of General Psychiatry, cited in the report. It also cites CDC figures that 55% of high school girls and 30% of boys report “disordered eating symptoms” to lose weight, such as diet pills, vomiting, laxatives, fasting and binge-eating.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health illnesses, and successful treatment requires medical, psychiatric and nutritional intervention, says Sim, a child psychologist.