Loss of appetite in children is often caused by an underlying medical condition such as an infection a food intolerance or anxiety. It can also be a side effect of medication. In most cases loss of appetite is not a cause for concern and will improve with time. However if your child is losing weight or if their appetite does not improve after a few days it is important to see a doctor.
Loss of appetite in children and its treatment
There are a number of things you can do to help increase your child’s appetite including:
- Encouraging them to eat small frequent meals throughout the day
- Offering foods that are high in calories and nutrients
- Making mealtimes relaxed and enjoyable
- Avoiding distractions during mealtimes such as television or computers
- If your child is struggling to gain weight their doctor may prescribe a supplement or recommend specialised formula milk.
Causes of loss of appetite in children
There are many potential causes of loss of appetite in children ranging from psychological factors to physical illnesses. Some common causes include:
- Emotional distress or anxiety: Children may lose their appetite if they are experiencing stress or anxiety either due to a specific event (such as starting school or moving house) or due to more general feelings of worry.
- Illness: A wide variety of illnesses can cause loss of appetite in children including infections (such as the stomach flu) chronic conditions (such as diabetes or celiac disease) and mental health disorders (such as depression).
- Side effects of medication: Some medications such as those used to treat cancer or ADHD can cause loss of appetite as a side effect.
- Poor nutrition: If a child is not getting enough nutrients from their diet they may lose their appetite. This can be due
you can read: How to open a child’s appetite to eat
Anorexia treatment for children
Anorexia is a serious mental illness with potentially life-threatening consequences. Early intervention and treatment is essential for the best possible outcome.
There are a number of different treatment options available for children with anorexia depending on the severity of the illness. In milder cases outpatient therapy may be sufficient. This typically involves weekly sessions with a therapist dietitian and doctor. Family therapy may also be recommended to help support the child and promote recovery.
In more severe cases inpatient treatment may be necessary. This can involve hospitalization with intensive psychiatric and medical care. Treatment will focus on restoring weight to a healthy level and addressing any underlying psychological issues. Family therapy is also often included in inpatient treatment to help support the child and family during this difficult time.