Since obese kids are told that they need to lose weight and in the process of doing so, they could also be at grave risk of eating disorders. A study carried out in 2011 found that nearly 6% of youths suffer from eating disorders - 55% of high school girls and 30% of boys resort to unhealthy ways to keep their weight in check using laxatives, vomiting, fasting and binge-eating.
What is worse is that such kids in the throes of eating disorders are not evaluated medically due to the baggage of obesity they carry. This leads to late diagnosis of the condition and delayed treatment of the eating disorder.
"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.
The best possible outcomes in treatment of eating disorders occur only if it is diagnosed early.
Research also found that 35% of kids and teens who approach specialists with problems of restrictive eating have a history of obesity. The key risk factor for an eating disorder is dieting and every medical provider needs to watch out for symptoms of eating disorder not withstanding the weight of the child.
Hagman, medical director of the eating disorders program at Children's Hospital said, "They come in with the same fear of fat, drive for thinness, and excessive exercise drive as kids who would typically have met an anorexia nervosa diagnosis. But because they are at or an even a little bit above their normal body weight, no one thinks about that."
It is important that doctors evaluate the risk profile for disordered eating in obese children.