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    Eating Disorders Are On the Rise Among Young Ticos

    Support from family and caregivers is essential in the recovery of people diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders

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    Global statistics show an increase in the incidence of Eating Disorders (EDs). Costa Rica does not escape this reality and more and more adolescents are affected by this mental condition.

    According to data from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), in 2019, 958 cases were registered among young people between the ages of 15 and 19, in 2020 the total amount was 1,158 and from January to November 2021 there were already a total of 1,751 cases in the same age range. This, it should be added, excludes all other care provided by private health centers. The increase in cases in our country is worrying, but the lack of knowledge that the population has about the disease is more worrying.

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    The News Survey carried out by the School of Statistics of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) in 2017, reflected a marked misinformation about eating disorders. “When 46.1% of the people agreed with the statement that “eating disorders are for pure vanity” and 38.3% considered it true that “who has an eating disorder is to attract attention”, it is worrying.

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    Eating disorders (EDs) are serious and genetically influenced mental conditions that affect 70 million people around the world. It is said that every 62 minutes a person dies as a direct cause of an eating disorder, and this makes these disorders the deadliest among all conditions of mental origin.

    Detect in time

    From the College of Nutrition Professionals we recommend that parents and relatives be attentive to the following behaviors that will allow them to detect an eating disorder in time:

    • The person stops eating together with other family members and makes excuses such as: “I’m full”, “I already ate” or “I don’t like that food”.
    • They experience major mood swings, begin to isolate themselves, and avoid social gatherings.
    • The person experiences drastic changes in weight and as a result dresses in an unusual way, for example, with looser clothing.

    Avoid restrictive diets in minors

    Eating disorders can be prevented by avoiding restrictive diets in people under 18 years of age, because according to specialists, minors who undergo diets are up to 50% more likely to present eating disorders.

    This year, the celebration of June 2, TCA Day, also directs its attention to caregivers and the family circle that is next to a person who suffers from an eating disorder, since these people carry a high level of exhaustion, intense emotions and uncertainty during the process of treatment and recovery of loved ones.

    Caregivers need to be part of the treatment process and are the most important key to helping the patient improve their condition. Therefore, caregivers also need to be accompanied, validated, supported and cared for in their physical and mental health so that their health can be positive and they in turn can care for their loved ones.

    Important recommendations for caregivers

    • Incorporate self-care routines into your day-to-day life that allow you to have good health, such as a balanced diet, movement, and spaces for recreation and fun.
    • Seek help managing your own emotions around the process.
    • Actively attend all of your loved one’s therapies, and be open to learning from the professionals who are helping you.
    • Count on support from family and close friends during the process.
    • Be patient with yourself and with your loved one. The process is long and requires a lot of effort, so you can’t solve everything overnight.
    • Remember that in order to help others, you first need to get well.
    • Early detection is key to recovery from eating disorders and most people who suffer from them can recover 100% with proper treatment.
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