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KQED health program examines causes and effects of disordered eating

Between 5 and 10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men struggle with eating disorders, according to statistics (.pdf) from the National Eating Disorders Association. KQED's latest Health Dialogues focuses on abnormal eating patterns such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

During the program, James Lock, MD, psychiatric director of the Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and Seth Ammerman, MD, clinical professor at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, discuss the physical and mental health implications of eating disorders. In the conversation, Ammerman points out the medical complications associated with such health conditions:

These disorders can be extremely serious medically. Not only can patients die from malnutrition but they can also have irreversible, long-term medical consequences including abnormal growth, girls can become infertile, they can have abnormal bone density and end up having bones at the age of 15 or 20 like a 50 or 60 year-old woman. Some of these problems are irreversible if the disorder goes on long enough. So the medical consequences are quite severe. When kids are hospitalized for these issues, they’re often in shock because they’ve been out exercising and running around and all of a sudden we have them stuck on a bed and on a cardiac monitor because we’re worried about their heart failing.

The full program is worth listening to and provides information about triggers, signs and symptoms of eating disorders and what friends and family can do to help.

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