Anorexia and Your Teen - A WGEM News In-Depth Report - Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Anorexia and Your Teen - A WGEM News In-Depth Report


(WGEM) - How closely do you pay attention to what your child is eating? Do they make trips to the bathroom often after dinner? Or constantly talk about how they look?

More then half of teen girls and nearly one-third of teen boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors, according to National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

And those unhealthy behaviors can quickly spiral into a dangerous eating disorder.

(Click here to find out more about treatment, warning signs and support groups for anorexia at the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders web site.)

Cari Chambers stays busy working full time at a Macomb salon and raising a 11-year old son at home. But Chambers' 16-year-old daughter, Sydney, is not at home. She's being treated for an eating disorder at facility near Chicago. She's been there for 8 months.

"She's missed out on most of her junior year," Chambers said. "Cruising with her friends the dances she's missed the proms. This would have been her first prom she is not going to make it."

(Click here to visit for more signs on how to detect anorexia and how you can help your teen.)

Chambers says her daughter has struggled with anorexia since she was 14 and this is her third stay at the treatment facility.

"She would be cheering and I would be in the stands and I'd just wonder, is this the time I'm going to have to go pick her up off the floor," Chambers said.

Chambers hopes Sydney is able to overcome the disorder and return home soon. And people like fitness trainer Tiffaney Rains should give Chambers hope.

Rains herself battled with anorexia for 12 years, from junior high through early adulthood.

"People will go, 'well she just needs to eat, well why don't you just eat?'" Rains said. "And it's not just about eating, there's so much more that goes into it. A lot of it is about control. Trying to gain control of certain areas of their lives."

Rains says she's now recovered from her eating disorder and is working toward her masters degree in community counseling. She says she hopes to help others overcome the challenges she once struggled so hard with.

"It didn't matter how many people told me, who told me, I had to figure out that I was enough," Rains said. "That I was smart enough, that I was pretty enough, that I was enough."

Self-esteem issues are common with eating disorder patients, according to Kristine Whitehead, a clinical social worker with Hannibal Regional Healthcare Systems.

Whitehead says she's seeing more teens with eating disorders than ever before and, they're often sparked by stress, such as a failed relationship or social media pressures.

"There's a lot of bullying on social media," Whitehead said. "Kids used to be bullied at school and went home and they got away from it. Now it's 24/7."

Chambers hopes that her daughter will soon move from the in-patient center she's now in to a halfway house and then finally be able to come home.

"I have a lot of hope, I have a lot of faith in her," Chambers said. "And she's getting her strength back, I think she's seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."

Whitehead says there are some signs parents can use to recognize a problem in their teen.

"Starvation, not wanting to eat with the family. With binging and purging you are going to see frequent trips to the bathroom either during or after a meal," Whitehead said. "Often times kids will disguise that by running water or saying right after supper I'm going to go take a bath and they will run water and then they can throw up and no one will hear them."

According to, other signs that may signal someone your teen or someone you known has an eating disorder include obsession with weight or body image, constant exercising, hiding food, constant sore throat or sores around the mouth, isolation, or wanting to be alone.

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