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Fox 4: Eating Disorders Center at Children's Mercy helps young patients

Caroline Ayres is 16 years old, and she's involved in multiple school activities and thinking about college. But when Caroline was 11 years old, though, she was dealing with something she didn't really know how to describe - an eating disorder.

At first, Caroline said it started with a nervous stomach. She didn't want to eat because she thought it'd just upset her stomach more, and her mom wasn't concerned at first.

“The nervousness and anxiety got worse over the course of the summer, and her stomach always hurt, so she ate less, and the less she ate the less she wanted to eat. And I didn`t suspect an eating disorder for a few months because she was still doing everything, she went to camp, she was playing sports. It wasn`t until the fall that I realized how little she was eating,” said her mom, Suzy Ayres.

Dr. Kathryn Pieper from Children's Mercy's Eating Disorders Center says her patients are getting younger and younger.

“I think there is an increased awareness, but the age has been going down in terms of when the onset has occurred,” said Dr. Pieper, the Director of the Eating Disorders Center.

“There are a lot of social and cultural pressures that play a huge part in terms of how body conscious kids are younger and younger,” she said.

One big myth regarding eating disorders is the idea that having an eating disorder is a choice.

Dr. Pieper wants people to know it is not a choice - it is an illness.


See the full story via Fox 4.

Learn more about the Eating Disorders Center at Children's Mercy.