Mar 1, 2010 Post By: Children's Health

Eating Disorders: Not just for Teens Anymore

We often think of the first few years in elementary school as simple and carefree. These are the years when kids look forward to swinging from the monkey bars at recess and eating with their friends in the lunchroom.

But that hasn't been the case for 8-year-old Moira Eckberg. She's spent most of her time obsessing about her weight.

Her obsession started in Kindergarten and became so severe that she would stop eating altogether and then binge and purge. Not long after the vicious cycle began, her mom, Erin Floyd, knew something was very wrong. Moira's weight was dropping and so was her energy level.

Eating disorders expert Dr. Stephanie Setliff made a video to help moms like Floyd recognize the signs of anorexia and bulimia.

An eating disorders program just for kids

A visit to Children's a few days before Moira's eighth birthday confirmed Floyd's suspicion - her daughter was struggling with bulimia nervosa. Floyd was relieved to find the Center for Pediatric Eating Disorders at Children's - the only pediatric hospital in the Southwest that treats latency-aged children for eating disorders.

"There are a lot of programs out there for teens and adults, but not for kids," Floyd said.

Moira spent nearly two weeks at Children's in November 2009.

The turning point

"Moira's stay at the hospital was her turning point," Floyd said. "When she saw others worse off than she was, it shocked her back into reality. She finally realizes she doesn't need to be skinny for people to like her."

And that realization has resulted in major progress. Since November, Moira has gained five pounds, and is well on her way to getting her life back to the way it should be at her age - simple and carefree.