Comorbid Conditions Symptom Tests

[Self-Test] Eating Disorders in Children and Teens

Eating disorders are prevalent – and on the rise – among children and teens with ADHD. Take this self-test to see if your child or adolescent may be showing signs of an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorder.

Young people, teenagers, suffering from psychological diseases, anxiety. Girls and boys sitting sad by the window or wall. Vector illustration
Young people, teenagers, suffering from psychological diseases, anxiety. Girls and boys sitting sad by the window or wall. Vector illustration

Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge-eating disorder (BED) typically begin in adolescence, but they are increasingly seen in younger children.

Researchers have linked the rise of eating disorders in children and teens to the pandemic and the ongoing youth mental health crisis, among other stressors.1 2 Social media may also play a role in driving body image dissatisfaction and negative comparison among teens.3 What’s more, children and teens with conditions like anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at greater risk for developing eating disorders.4 , 5

Eating disorders are complex but treatable conditions. Early detection greatly improves recovery and health outcomes.

If you are concerned that your child is showing signs of an eating disorder like AN, BN, or BED, answer the questions below and share the results with your child’s pediatrician or a licensed mental health professional who is experienced in diagnosing and treating eating disorders.

If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) for support, resources, and treatment options. Call or text NEDA at 800-931-2237 or visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org to reach a NEDA volunteer.

This self-test was adapted from materials provided in “Identification and Management of Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is designed to screen for the possibility of eating disorders like AN, BN, and BED in children and teens, and it is for personal use only. This test is not intended as a diagnostic tool. Only a licensed mental health professional can diagnose eating disorders.

My child feels like they have to “make up for” eating by exercising, purging, eating less, etc.

My child is often preoccupied with food and their body.

My child often exercises and feels stressed when they are unable to work out as planned.

My child is often moody and irritable.

My child avoids certain foods for fear of weight gain.

My child eats in secret and hides food.

My child often feels out of control when eating.

My child’s weight fluctuates.

My child is often alone and doesn’t hang out with friends.

My child fears weight gain.

My child feels guilty after eating.

My child’s grades in school have dropped.

I am often concerned about my child’s physical and mental health.

My child often expresses concern about their body shape, size, and/or weight.


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Eating Disorders in Children and Teens: Next Steps

View Article Sources

1 Asch, D. A., Buresh, J., Allison, K. C., Islam, N., Sheils, N. E., Doshi, J. A., & Werner, R. M. (2021). Trends in US Patients Receiving Care for Eating Disorders and Other Common Behavioral Health Conditions Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA network open, 4(11), e2134913. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.34913

2 Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). (2021). Protecting Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory. US Department of Health and Human Services.

3 Charmaraman, L., Richer, A. M., Liu, C., Lynch, A. D., & Moreno, M. A. (2021). Early Adolescent Social Media-Related Body Dissatisfaction: Associations with Depressive Symptoms, Social Anxiety, Peers, and Celebrities. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP, 42(5), 401–407. https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0000000000000911

4 Nazar, B. P., Bernardes, C., Peachey, G., Sergeant, J., Mattos, P., & Treasure, J. (2016). The risk of eating disorders comorbid with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The International journal of eating disorders, 49(12), 1045–1057. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22643

5 National Institute of Mental Health. Eating disorders. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/eating-disorders