Questions about eating disorders

  • 20 February 2012
Girls eating school dinner Image copyright Getty Images

Expert Susan Ringwood from the charity BEAT answers questions about eating disorders which were sent in by Newsround viewers.

How do eating disorders develop? And how can you treat them?

Eating disorders do sometimes start very slowly, which can make it hard to know when you have a problem. If you are at all worried about yourself or a friend, you should speak to someone as soon as possible.

The sooner someone gets treatment, the better it is.

The best treatment is usually talking about your problems to someone who really understands it. And they will help you learn how to cope and eat healthily again.

How much sugar should you have in a day?

There aren't any rules about how much sugar is good or bad, but it is important to eat a variety of food and not too much or too little of any one thing.

My friend is really thin. Is she doing it herself or what else could it be?

There might be lots of reasons why someone could be very thin. Some other illnesses can make you thin too.

You can't tell from someone's size whether they are ill or not, but if your friend is really worried about the food perhaps you could help her to talk to someone about it.

When you don't eat, apart from eating disorders what other problems can occur?

Everyone needs to eat a healthy range of food to keep their bodies working properly.

Young people's bodies are growing and that takes a lot of energy. If you don't eat then your body may not grow properly until you start to eat again.

I have a friend and she is worried about her weight and talks about it. Sometimes I think she's joking but when the guys are around she won't eat. Is there anyway I can help her and talk her out of it?

It sounds like you are really worried about your friend, and its good that you want to help her. Friends are very important in times like this, but you may not be able to help your friend just by yourself. Perhaps you could encourage her to talk to an adult who she trusts.

How do you know if you're anorexic?

If you are concerned about your health or changes to your body the best thing to do is to speak to an adult you trust.

Growing up is a very difficult time, and your body changes a lot. Sometimes this can be very difficult to deal with, but remember that no matter how isolated you may feel, it will always feel better to share your problem with someone who could help.

What's the right weight for a tall 14-year-old girl?

There is no right weight for anyone. Everyone's body is different.

However, if you are concerned about changes to your body, do not be afraid to speak to a trusted adult about it. They have been through it too remember.

People keep telling me I'm thin. People keep commenting on how I eat, how much I eat, what I eat. I know I am not fat, I don't think I'm thin. I do watch what I eat. I do calorie count. Should my parents be worried??

It sounds to me like you are a bit worried about how you think and feel. It must be difficult when everyone is commenting about what you do. Maybe they are just worried about you.

Do you think that you could talk to them about it? Maybe get some information that would explain things to you and your parents.

What's your opinion on anorexia? What if you don't want to get better?

It must be really hard to feel that you don't want to get better. We do know that eating disorders can be beaten. People do get better, and they do get well. It's hard to do that on your own and telling someone else if you think you have a problem is the very first step.

What is a good way to get to like different foods? I'm a really picky eater, so I don't eat too much. And if I do, it is always sugary stuff, and I'm worried I'll get fat.

Eating good meals is important to keep you healthy. Maybe you could try one new thing each week and see which ones you like the best?

Waiting until you get very hungry and then eating junk isn't good for you. Try to eat regular meals and healthy snacks throughout the day, and this should help to stop your sugar cravings.