June 23rd, 2024

Screen all adolescent patients for eating disorders, new pediatric guidance says

By Nicole Ireland, The Canadian Press on June 5, 2024.

Medical tools are pictured in an exam room at a health clinic in Calgary, Friday, July 14, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The Canadian Paediatric Society is urging primary-care providers to screen all adolescent patients for eating disorders during routine checkups and other medical visits.

The society released new guidelines Thursday to help pediatricians, family doctors and nurse practitioners diagnose eating disorders as cases have skyrocketed since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Holly Agostino, lead author of the guidelines, says wait times for eating disorder programs have grown dramatically and health-care providers in the community can help by catching eating disorders early and working with patients and their families to change eating behaviours.

Agostino says the initial screening process can be quick, using a few questions about weight changes, exercise habits and body image.

She says doctors sometimes don’t consider anorexia in patients who don’t appear to be too thin, are male or are racialized.

Agostino says an eating disorder isn’t determined just by weight, but also by thoughts, obsessions and fears around weight gain or compulsive exercise.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content.

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