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Anorexia Among The Very Young

With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

Children as young as five, being treated for anorexia. We’re exploring the subtle causes and treatments that can save lives.

“Anorexia can strike and kill as early as kindergarten.” The headline left us breathless.   Hype, we wondered? Then we started to call around and do the research.  That’s when it got a whole lot scarier. The numbers of young children requiring hospitalization keeps going up. Girls and boys. They refuse to eat. Exercise compulsively. Say they are “too fat. “

Everyone says our thin-obsessed culture sends the wrong message.  But few thought such young children would be so vulnerable.

This hour, On Point: Anorexia in children. Subtle causes and treatments that can save lives.

Guests

Kaylin Ohler, now 24 years old, she was first diagnosed with anorexia in fourth grade. She works part-time on the eating disorders unit at Omaha Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Jennifer Hagman, program director of the Eating Disorders Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado.

From the Reading List

ABC News “Sophie started starving herself in kindergarten, giving up sweets at first, then taking smaller and smaller portions of food. She exercised compulsively on the monkey bars.”

Omaha World-Herald “Her struggle started at an age when most kids are busy playing house and learning to color inside the lines. As a kindergartener, she was already busy comparing herself to the other girls in her class. When she was in fourth grade, Ohler’s school taught students about nutrition and eating well. She didn’t learn to eat well, though. She learned to diet because, in her mind, ‘being overweight and being bigger was undesirable and unacceptable.'”

CNN “Swimming outdoors, playing with the family pet and enjoying an ice cream cone — that is the summer life of a typical 9-year-old girl. Not for Sarah Smith. As a child, Smith (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy) formed habits that would eventually lead her to develop both bulimia and anorexia nervosa, both of which she is still dealing with today.”

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