December 2, 2010 at 9:58 PM CST - Updated June 15 at 6:05 PM
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, eating disorders among teens and kids are on the rise. At the same time, about 17% of people in the same age group are obese. Dr. Merrill Bomar, a local pediatric nurse practitioner, says there could possibly be connections between the two.
"I've heard of it becoming more of a problem. Kids are becoming more aware of, 'Oh I shouldn't eat this or I'm gonna get fat or that kind of thing,'" she said.
Fortunately, Dr. Bomar says there doesn't seem to be much of a rise in the disorders locally. But the two ends of the spectrum can put physicians in a delicate situation.
"You have to do it in a sensitive manner. We don't have them weigh themselves every day or weigh themselves weekly," she said.
The report shows between one and two percent of teenage girls are either anorexic or bulimic, but the disorders are starting earlier -- often before age 12. So when dealing with an obese patient, Dr. Bomar goes about things carefully.
"Keep it as making healthy choices rather than, 'You're gonna be on this strict, limited diet.' That could set someone up for a potential eating disorder," she said.
That's why she says moderation is key -- focusing on getting the kids to eat healthy foods, or doing something active instead of sitting in front of the TV. Even if a patient is willing to change habits, Dr. Bomar wants to make sure they don't go too far.
"Kids that are anxious about gaining weight, and don't want to become obese, and so they go the opposite extreme," she said.