The onset of an eating disorder most commonly occurs in adolescence but may occur as young as 7 or as old as 70. Evidence shows that there are two peak periods for the onset of an eating disorder, occurring at puberty and late adolescence.
Regardless of the age of a person at the time their eating disorder begins, there can often be a considerable period of time between onset and the time of first treatment. This delay is likely to negatively influence the duration of the eating disorder and the outcomes of treatment.
Due to the nature of an eating disorder many of the characteristic behaviours may be concealed. A person with an eating disorder may go to great lengths to hide, disguise or deny their behaviour, or do not recognise that there is anything wrong. The person may see a number of healthcare professionals before receiving a correct diagnosis.
Evidence shows that early diagnosis and intervention can greatly reduce the duration and severity of an eating disorder. It is therefore vital to seek professional help at the earliest possible time.
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