Students Who Overeat Require Medical Attention, Not Punishment – Psychiatrists Report.
Almost everyone overeats on occasion. It’s also normal for children and teenagers to have larger appetites during growth spurts.
Schools have various ways of punishing students who receive a second or, in some cases, the third helping of a meal.
Some students are suspended or expelled, while others are required to purchase food for the entire school.
However, psychiatrists now believe that, while teens’ appetites are generally larger, many of those who overeat are simply sick and require medical attention rather than punishment.
They tested 9,742 high school, college, and university students last year and discovered that up to 19% of them may have binge eating disorders.
Although it is little known in Kenya, BED is a severe, life-threatening eating disorder that is recognized as the world’s most common. It is also curable.
The psychiatrists are from the Africa Mental Health Research and Training Foundation in Nairobi, as well as the University of Nairobi and Machakos University.
According to them, people with BED frequently consume unusually large amounts of food in a short period of time and are unable to stop eating.
They then experience feelings of shame or loss of control as a result of their actions.
In a study that was peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal, they found a prevalence of 3.2% of BED and a wide range of prevalence for BED and BED-related symptoms (8.1% to 19%).
The prevalence in Kenya is concerning because it is higher than the global average of 2% and has been linked to other health issues such as high cholesterol and diabetes.
People with BED often experience emotional stress, which can lead to binge eating. The study’s lead author, psychiatrist David Ndetei, believes it is the first of its kind in Africa.
“There is a dearth of literature on eating disorders not only in Kenya but the rest of sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
It is published in the current issue of the journal BMC Psychiatry. The students were drawn from the counties of Nairobi, Machakos, Kitui, and Makueni.
The researchers stated that because their study participants were all from Ukambani, they were unable to generalize their findings from the high school student population to other similar students.
The research was conducted in the villages during the closure of secondary schools. The Psychiatric Diagnostic Screening Questionnaire was used to record BED symptoms.
The questionnaire is self-administered and contains ten questions about specific BED symptoms. The responses to the questions were coded as No or Yes.
They hope that the study will persuade school administrators to stop expulsions for overeating and instead refer students for counselling and treatment.
Psychotherapy, behaviour therapy, weight loss therapy, and medication are all available as treatment options.
Some of the health risks associated with binge eating and weight gain include; Diabetes and hypertension, high levels of cholesterol, Obstructive sleep apnea and fatty liver disease.
Students suffering from a binge eating disorder may quickly gain weight, feel self-conscious about their weight and eating habits, eat in private or alone due to embarrassment, hide wrappers or containers and stash snacks or extra food.
They may also skip school or avoid activities because they are afraid of being teased or bullied. They may require extra time to complete homework or assignments due to doctor, nutrition, or counselling appointments.
What Teachers Can Do
Binge eating is frequently used to cope with difficult emotions. Because they are overweight, many binge eaters are teased or bullied.
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This can aggravate the situation and lead to overeating. Many students Who Overeat do not seek help for binge eating because of feelings of guilt and shame.
Early detection is the most effective way to treat eating disorders like binge eating disorders. If you suspect or know that a student has an eating disorder, refer them for help. The school counselor or nurse can assist you.
Maintain an environment in your classroom that promotes health and wellness without focusing on weight. Set a good example for your students by displaying healthy attitudes toward food, exercise, and body image.
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