Bulimia doesn't define 8-year-old anymore

February 26, 2010

Moira Eckberg was only 7 years old when she stopped eating for periods of time and then binged and purged her food. Her mom, Erin Floyd, immediately recognized her behaviors as an eating disorder and took Moira to the pediatrician who referred her to Children’s — the only pediatric hospital in the Southwest that treats latency-aged children for eating disorders.

Dr. Stephanie Setliff, medical director of the Center for Pediatric Eating Disorders at Children’s, diagnosed Moira with bulimia nervosa.

“We caught it early enough before too much damage had been done,” Floyd said. “Parents need to watch for visible signs in their children, even at an early age.”

Signs of an eating disorder

Dr. Setliff recommends that you take your child to the pediatrician if you notice any of these behaviors:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Avoiding meals with the family
  • Obsessive exercising
  • Mood changes

Moira’s progress

Since a two-week stay at Children’s in November 2009, Moira has gained five pounds, but the journey isn’t over. Floyd said it’s a constant battle and she works with Moira’s school to make sure she eats.

But the 8-year-old has overcome the hardest part of her struggle.

“Moira realizes that she doesn’t need to be skinny for people to like her,” Floyd said.

Watch Dr. Setliff and learn more about the dangers of eating disorders in the Your Child’s Health segment.