Examining Eating Disorders Through the Lens of “To the Bone”

As an adolescent medicine specialist, I help teens manage a wide range of eating habits, many of which can negatively impact their overall health and development. For example, I often hear teens say they’re skipping breakfast or trying to diet. Some have very rigid rules around food that alarmingly result in their bodies showing signs of starvation. Although these symptoms can rarely point to a severe eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia nervosa, when these disorders do take hold they can be life altering.

I recently watched a film on Netflix called “To the Bone,” which illustrated an example of one person’s struggle to recover from anorexia. Despite its dramatic portrayal for cinematic purposes, I was impressed with the truthful depiction of the emotional experiences the main character faced with her eating disorder.

Eating disorders affect about 0.5% of the population, but symptoms often start during the teen years. Complications of eating disorders can be severe and include shifts in electrolytes (like potassium, chloride and glucose), diminished hormone levels (estrogen and testosterone), decreased bone strength, poor concentration, and death.

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What You Should Know About Teen Suicide

Recent conversations with friends and colleagues have been abuzz with discussions about “13 Reasons Why,” a new Netflix series about a teen who died by suicide that has sparked debate across the country. While they all have reservations about some of the graphic content and appropriateness for teen viewers, they also feel the issue of teen suicide is an important one to discuss.

I completely agree.

Suicide is one of the top three leading causes of death for youth under age 24. As healthcare providers, parents, friends, and loved ones, it’s vital we understand what we can do to support those who may be considering ending their life. Read full post »

Teenology 101: Vaccine hesitancy

Vaccines have been a topic of much debate lately: Do they help? Are they safe? Should I vaccinate my child?

I can recall a recent visit with a 16-year-old girl. She had a question about the HPV vaccine. She’d seen a commercial and was interested in learning more. We discussed the risks and benefits as well as the purpose of the vaccine. After she’d asked a series of very insightful and thought out questions, she decided she wanted to proceed with starting the vaccination series (the Gardasil vaccine is a series of 3 shots over 6 months). We brought her mother in to talk about starting the series and her mother hesitated. Like any caring parent, she wanted to be certain her daughter was safe. Their pediatrician hadn’t discussed the vaccine and she’d read on social media that it had potential side effects. At the end of our visit, my patient still wanted the vaccine, but her mother wanted to think about it.

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