Screening for Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are common in adolescents and younger children. In fact, many teenagers engage in behaviors indicative of eating disorders.
In the last 30 days, 62 percent of females and 30 percent of males have attempted to lose weight; 12 percent fasted for more than 24 hours to lose weight; 6.1 percent of youth used diet pills, powders or liquids to lose weight; and 6.2 percent of females and 2.8 percent of males reported either self-induced vomiting or laxative use (or both).
The primary care practitioner needs to be aware of these behaviors, screening teenagers at each health maintenance visit, and paying attention to parental concerns about changes in attitude about their bodies, and about eating.
When a primary care practitioner does become concerned, then a more thorough history should be obtained. It is important to do a gown-only weight, orthostatic vital signs and electrolytes to access for acute risk.
Many patients can be managed in the outpatient setting with a multidisciplinary team of medical providers, nutritionists, psychologists and psychiatrists. However, it is important for PCPs to recognize and understand the need for medical hospitalization, or the need for a higher level of care.
Criteria for medical hospitalization include:
- Bradycardia: supine HR < 45-50
- Electrolyte abnormalities: K+ < 2.5
- < 75% healthy body weight
- Persistent dizziness/dehydration
- Temperature < 34.5
- Inability to arrest purging
- Failure of outpatient treatment
Services we offer
Children's Hospital Colorado has an inpatient medical unit, an inpatient eating disorders unit, as well as day treatment programs. Often adolescents transition from the inpatient medical unit to the inpatient EDU once they are medically stable.
If outpatient management doesn’t seem to be working, then children and adolescents may admit directly to the inpatient EDU, or to the day treatment program, depending on need.
Learn more about Children's Hospital Colorado Eating Disorders Treatment Program
To discuss a case or refer a patient for evaluation, please call 720-777-6452.