Many people with eating disorders look healthy yet may be extremely ill.Academy for Eating Disorders, 2022
Eating Disorders: The Question of Weight
Three adolescents are in your office today for their Texas Health Steps preventive medical checkups. As part of the checkups, you will measure the patients’ height and weight and determine their BMI, as required by the Texas Health Steps Periodicity Schedule. This information, along with updating the patient history, may be a key factor in your decision whether to assess for eating disorders, which are the third most common chronic condition among adolescents.
Good to know
A BMI calculator for youth is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The weight status categories and corresponding percentiles shown below were based on expert committee opinions.
|Weight Status Category||Percentile Range|
|Underweight||Less than the 5th percentile|
|Healthy Weight||5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile|
|Overweight||85th to less than the 95th percentile|
|Obesity||Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile|
Individuals of all shapes and sizes can have an eating disorder. Health-care providers are encouraged to avoid making assumptions based on an individual’s appearance and to look carefully for warning signs and other physical symptoms at every preventive medical checkup. Screening tools are available to help diagnose eating disorders. Tools are also available to address weight stigma in the office and provide guidance about adopting weight-neutral language that encourages patients to seek help for disordered eating.
Why it Matters
“Pediatricians are in a unique position to detect eating disorders early and interrupt their progression” (AAP, 2021) by routinely assessing patients, identifying at-risk behaviors and consistently focusing on healthy lifestyle rather than weight.
Take this free CE course to learn more about identifying and managing eating disorders in young people.
Academy for Eating Disorders. (2022). Nine Truths about Eating Disorders.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021). Clinical Report: Identification and Management of Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics, 147(1):e2020040279.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). Clinical Report: Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents. Pediatrics; 138(3).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). BMI percentile calculator for child and teen.