Friday, March 19, 2010

Education about Eating Disorders

Thanks to Sheila Himmel, Co-Author with her daughter Lisa of Hungry: A Mother and Daughter Battle Anorexia for her article on Pediatricians: first responders to possible eating disorders I found it thought provoking and frustration producing. Not due to what Sheila shared but what a doctor shared...this is why I am out there talking with health care providers.

Here is what the doctor had to say in Sheila's article:
Dr. Frederick Lloyd told me, "I've never had to hospitalize on that first visit. My usual strategy is to listen to the family and the child's concerns, which is most often weight loss. The child almost always feels there is not a problem and they are in control. Since they are usually medically stable, I suggest the parents step aside and we will see where we are in a couple of weeks. Sure enough they come back with further weight loss, and then I describe what needs to be done to be sure this is not an occult medical condition [such as celiac disease]. I describe how we will follow this, and then, depending on how they do, discuss other resources."

Tell me why the doctor wouldn't talk with the parents further and dig a little deeper instead of wasting valuable time? Why not refer to an eating disorders specialist who could do an evaluation and if there is a problem, get treatment started right away? If this was cancer would the doctor take the child's word for it that he/she feels fine and delay treatment? It is time for more education of the front line health care providers on the seriousness of these illnesses.

AND - that doctor and many others need to know that not all people with eating disorders present with weight loss. Hello.

Here is my comment to Sheila, I am so grateful that she got me thinking about this more. Yes, this one hit a nerve with me. Gives me some more talking points with the health care providers I speak with on this topic.

Thank you Sheila for this article and for the work you are doing in trying to educate the doctors. I felt my blood start to boil when I read what the doctor said about weight loss being the most common thing he sees! Then it hit full boil when I immediately read that he asks the parents to back off.

This is why it is so important that you and I and many others are out there doing the educating that our medical schools haven't done. First of all, anorexia is the least common of all the eating disorders and so if he is watching for weight loss then he is missing many kids with bulimia and binge eating disorder who don't often present with weight loss.

It took at least 2 years to get my daughter's eating disorder diagnosed in part because she wasn't emaciated. Doctors need to know that it can still be serious and that the parents need to be involved.

That parentectomy model is so old - I am not shocked that he is still suggesting this but I am saddened by it.

Thank you Sheila for sharing this.
Becky Henry
Hope Network, Inc.

So readers, I'm a bit riled up for a Friday, thanks for reading. Would love to hear your experiences with trying to get an eating disorder diagnosed by a primary care physician.

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