Essay on Anorexia and Food Refusal in Children

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Anorexia and Food Refusal in Children

"Eating Disorders in children and adolescents represent potentially life-threatening, debilitating conditions that impede physical, emotional, and behavioral growth and development. If treated soon after onset, childhood and adolescent eating disorders have a relatively good prognosis; however, if not treated, they may become chronic conditions by adulthood with devastating and sometimes irreversible medical, behavioral, and emotional consequences (Robin, Gilroy, and Dennis, 1998, pp421)."

Feeding problems and eating disturbances in toddlers and early school age children are not particularly rare. They occur in 25%-40% of the population (Kerwin, 1999). However, severe eating disturbances
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Some physical factors that are affected by poor diets include the following: anatomical abnormalities, sensory perceptual impairment, motor dysfunction, oral motor dysfunction and respiratory cardiac and gastrointestinal problems (Kerwin, 1999). Additionally, eating disturbances may place the child at great risk for aspiration, malnutrition, invasive medical procedures, admission to an inpatient unit for treatment of the problem, and limitations in social emotional and educational functioning and development (Kerwin, 1999).

Early treatment of eating disorders is extremely important in caring for the health of children and adolescents. There are many treatments currently available to treat a variety of eating disorders. Some that will be discussed include anti-depressant medication, hospitalization, individual psychotherapy, family therapy, classical and operant conditioning, and cognitive restructuring. The purpose of this paper is to explore different treatments for anorexia and food refusal in children, and determine which treatments are most effective.


Children and Adolescents with Anorexia can be hospitalized in pediatric or psychiatric units equally effectively (Robin et. al., 1998) as long as the impatient care environment is safe, firm, caring, highly structured, and not punitive. The main goal of hospitalization is nutritional stabilization. Inpatient treatments tend to focus more on physical health