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It’s Time to Talk About Eating Disorders in Schools

Students spend the majority of their day in the school environment, which means it is critical for teachers and coaches to be aware of the subtle warning signs that a student may be struggling with an eating disorder.

Because adolescence is a period of dynamic growth and development in the body and brain, untreated eating disorders that arise during adolescence can have a lasting impact on physical and emotional health. Early intervention is essential. When eating disorders are identified and treated early, the chances of a full recovery are significantly increased.

What teachers and coaches should look for:

  • Students eating alone
  • Students skipping lunch altogether
  • Students drinking more water
  • Students visiting the bathroom alone
  • Students layering clothing when it is not appropriate for the temperature
  • Frequent standing, pacing, or fidgeting

A change in school performance and/or students who are distracted/unable to focus
What teachers and coaches should listen for:

  • Preoccupation with weight
  • Strict food rules, fad diets, and/or restricting entire food groups
  • New diet and exercise routines/excessive exercise
  • Fainting/lightheadedness

Look for these signs, express concern, and start a conversation with your school’s team —  counselors, school nurses, administrators, and social workers — to determine how to help your students access the care they need.

For additional resources on how to support students who may be impacted by an eating disorder, check out the National Eating Disorders Association’s Educator Toolkit.