Adolescents undergo a drastic physical and emotional change, leaving them susceptible to various behavioural and emotion disorders. Eating disorder is commonly seen in young adults, which is a kind of behavioural disorder that could stem from emotional turmoil in their mind. This kind of erratic eating habits often goes unnoticed by parents, and sometimes people suffering from it hide it themselves. But why would they hide it and not seek help if they are aware of the problem they are suffering from? This new study provides some answers. 

The study by a group of researchers at Flinders University found out that factors such as fear of being a burden to others, embarrassment, concern about other’s perception – are some of the barriers that restrict young people to seek professional help for eating disorders. The study results also suggest that young people are leaving it ‘too late’ to seek help for eating disorders, citing fear of losing control over their eating or weight, denial, and failure to perceive the severity of the illness as reasons not to get professional advice.

Kathina Ali, Research Associate in Psychology at Flinders University, and the first author of the study said, “Not wanting others to worry about their problems was the highest endorsed barrier – it reflects the wish for autonomy and also the fear of being a burden to others in this group of young adults.”
For the study, the researchers carried out an online survey of around 300 Australian young adults aged between 18 and 25 years. They discovered that most of the participants had eating, weight or body shape concerns, and even those with anorexia or bulimia reportedly found reasons to delay getting treatment or expert interventions.

“Concerningly, only a minority of people with eating disorder symptoms had sought professional help and few believed they needed help despite the problems they were experiencing,” says Dr Fassnacht, Flinders University Psychology Lecturer, co-author of  the paper that was published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

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By Papa