Eating Problems in Children: Information for Parents

Author: Claudine Fox and Carol Joughin

Date Of Publication: 03/10/2002

The Royal College of Psychiatrists published this guide to eating problems in children, with help and information provided by several eating disorder specialists, including Dr Rachel Bryant-Waugh and Dr Bryan Lask (co-authors of the more recently published Eating Disorders: a Parents’ Guide and Eating Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence). Although published in 2002, this book remains informative and has a straightforward, reassuring tone, which has the potential to help parents and other caregivers who are concerned about a child’s eating feel more confident about the next steps. There have been changes in diagnostic categorisations since the publication of this book and the research around eating problems in children has also moved forward. Nevertheless, the book remains relevant and as this is a relatively short book, at just 55 pages, parents can get a quick overview of the types of issues that may be of concern and possible things that may help moving forward.

The book is aimed primarily at those concerned about children in the age range of five to twelve years but parents of children under the age of five may find it helpful to dip into this book as it acts as a reminder that “it is common for pre-school children to have problems with eating” and that “this is seen as a normal stage of development in this age group”. The book, though, helps to identify when behaviours around food may not fit with the expected developmental stage in children aged between five and twelve, as well as offering information about when further help may be required and outlining the types of treatment that people might expect for each of the eating problems discussed. This is communicated in a clear way, with careful use of language, a helpful structure, informative tables, illustrations and a “things to remember” section at the end of each chapter. Food problems covered include, among others, selective eating (eating a narrow range of foods), food phobia (including fears around swallowing, different textures and being sick), childhood-onset anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and pervasive refusal syndrome (where children may refuse to walk, talk, eat, drink or take care of themselves in any way). The chapter on treatment may be particularly helpful to parents who have already seen a doctor about their child’s eating and are struggling to get appropriate help.

Overall, this is a concise but detailed overview of eating problems in children and well worth a read if you are concerned about someone in this age range.

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