Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Eating Disorder Service

Information for family and friends

How to tell if your child has an eating disorder

Young people might go through a phase of disordered eating (or otherwise eating unusually), and it can be difficult to know when it has become a serious problem. See early signs of eating disorders. If you have noticed any of the following it is possible that someone may be suffering from an eating disorder:

  • Making themselves sick (this can contribute to an unhealthy pattern of eating)
  • Worrying about losing control over eating;
  • Refusal to finish their meals despite encouragement;
  • Rapid weight loss (e.g., 1 stone in 3 months);
  • Believing they are fat, even when they look thin or ‘normal weight’;
  • Feeling that food / weight / shape are dominant in their life;
  • Use of laxatives or diuretics (water tablets) to try to decrease their weight (although this is ineffective in producing weight loss).
  • Feeling guilty if missing an exercise session, or exercising even when injured;
  • Loss of menstruation or failure to start menstruation (in girls) or delayed puberty/growth (in boys).

Elsewhere in this website you can find information on eating disorders.

Last updated: 2 April, 2019