Eating Disorder, Depression, Food Obsession?

Updated on August 03, 2012
3.B. asks from Tampa, FL
9 answers

My neice is almost 10. My sister is a single mom to her and another baby. Different dads. My neices father was never around until about 2 years ago but has dropped out of the picture again. The baby's father is not around either. Despite having absentee dads, both kids are very well loved and cared for. My neice has always seemed like ahappy well adjusted kid. She has always soome sort of food "obsession" for lack of a better term. When she was younger she CONSTANTLY wanted to eat. Asking for different things all the time. But when she'd get it she'd take a bite maybe two then say she didnt want it. But 5 minutes later she'd want something else and my sister and mom would always give it to her.
Now lately I am noticing she eats WAY too much. I first started noticing at the beginning of summer I'd invite my sister and the kids over to cook out. We'd have chicken, burger hot dogs etc. I'd see her eat two entire plates full of food. Then she go in and out from our patio, while we remained outside. At the end of the evening I'd go in to see every single hot dog gone and I could count in my head that I only saw two go to my kids, and maybe one or two to her. so that leaves at least 4-5 unaccounted for PLUS a pice of chicken she'd eaten and a burger. Not too mention two helpings of a side dish, two pieces of corn. I know it had to be her because my two are too young to serve themselves, I saw my sisters plate and my husband would tell me he didnt have any. A few other times we'd have them over for pizza and she'd eat 4-5, sometimes SIX pieces of pizza! She honestly out eats my husband who is 6'3 and 200lbs!!

I have witnessed similiar scenarios at my moms, birthday parties etc. She's not overweight, but is definitely gaining lately. NOT that I am worried about her weight. This just seems like very abnormal eating habits for a 9 year old. I've gently brought it up to my sister and she just laughs if off and says her stomach is a black whole..... This worries me. I honestly do not know how this kid fits so much food in to her small body. Its been going on awhile. Im not sure if this is sign of depression, a form of an eating disorder???? Not sure what to do. And if I should address it further w/ my sister? Im not trying to be nosy. But somethings just not right! Should I mind my own???

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I would NEVER say anything to her about her weight or what she eats. I am just a little concerned. I just can't imagine where all this food is going! LOL I honestly need to have enough extra for 2 grown men if shes coming to dinner!

Featured Answers



answers from New York on

As long as she is healthy, don't worry. I had a hollow leg at that age... my folks still laugh about it... We would go out to dinner, I would polish off then tire meal and then have this Huge dessert. Never gained a pound either...

(and I wish I could do that now!!)

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Toledo on

I vote for mind your own business. Definitely do not say anything to the child or to her mother in front of the child. The rare excessive eating disorders such as Prader Willi typically show up earlier than nine years old.

When my daughter was just three, she ate 12 ENTIRE cod fish filets at a fish fry. I brought a bag with me in car, certain she'd throw up on the way home. She is now 8, and eats 5 pieces of french toast for breakfast sometimes. I am a registered dietitian and I know kids eat in jags. If you are not worried about her weight, you could talk with your sister about her behavior in general, and is your sister saying anything to your niece about the eating behavior? If yes, it could be a form of rebellion if it doesn't seem to be physiologically based.

But I suggest being very careful about what you say, if you choose to say anything. Not in front of the kid.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My oldest grandson is 9 and he's a black hole for food. Right around this age they seem to pack on a bit a weight and then have a pretty big growth spurt. In my experience it seems like kids can't grow 2 ways at once so first they grow outwards then they grow upwards. I'd say as long as she's eating healthy stuff and getting plenty of time to run around and play you shouldn't be too concerned.

Please don't ever talk about weight and being fat with a child. Instead focus on making healthy choices and getting a lot of activity into their lives. By focusing on weight you are setting them up for a struggle with eating disorders.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I'd say you brought it up and now you need to drop it. I know its tempting. My sister's kid is overweight and I want to say something when I see her giving him two desserts. But what good will it do? It will only make her defensive and uncomfortable.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I'm surprised at the 'rudeness' of some of these replies. Sure, many 9 year olds eat 'a lot,' however what you are describing is beyond that. I, for one, applaud you for taking notice and caring. Too many people turn their backs on all kinds of situations because they don't want to interfere or become involved. I'm not a doctor or going to venture what the problem is, BUT it does not sound right to me at all. She may not even be eating the food. I'm a mom of 4 grown children and a daycare provider of over 21 years. I have never seen a child eat this much or like this. It does not sound right. I'd gently approach her mom again. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

That is the exact age that a major growth spurt happens, between 9-11. Both of my kids could eat the entire fridge during that time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yeah, I was the same way at 9. Seriously. I could clear out a buffet.

I was 50% smaller then everyone in my class, always. I'm a whole 98 pounds as an adult...pre and post child. I have never weighed 100 pounds until I was pregnant. I can still eat a lot. I have an insane metabolism. People questioned how I could even carry a child.

Unless this child is exhibiting emotional issues or doing badly in school, with friends, and totally withdrawn...actually, it's still really non of your business. Please, stop policing her food. It sounds crazy that you would monitor her food consumption, walk around asking what everyone ate, and counting hot dogs. Butt out, you are being nosy. You said it once, that's enough. This your sister's daughter, and you yourself said she is happy and well cared for. If this becomes a REAL issue, give your sister the credit she deserves, that she is competent enough to deal with it.

ETA: I have never had thyroid, metabolic, or other disorders...just for the record.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

It's very strange to eat that much food. Has your sister had her checked out with her pediatrician? If she's hungry enough to eat this much and isn't gaining weight I have to wonder about her metabolism and whether she has a thyroid disorder? (Which is easily addressed and not a big deal.) It's not normal for anyone to eat 6 slices of pizza - let alone a child. I'd suggest a complete exam, blood test, etc. Either your sister starves her the times she's not around you - or this child has some physiological issue if she hasn't become obese. On the other hand, if she is gaining weight she needs to have her food issue addressed. Either way she should get to the pediatrician sooner rather than later.



answers from New York on

she could be eating too fast.. i have to consciously tell myself to slow down while im eating... when we moved in with my fiances parents for a while there was always a to0n of amazing food in the house.. mil always cooked tons of awesome stuff for dinner.. i would eat really fast because it was so good, think i was still hungry, eat more, and then ten minutes later feel like o my god my stomach is going to explode.. id always end up with a stomach ache after a meal and that habit kind of just stuck around for a while even after we moved back.. now i purposly eat slow so that i will actually know when im full and not have to realize it 10 minutes after i stuffed my face and feel like im going to die.. u gotta give yourself some time to digest and for your stomach to feel full .. also is she drinking enough while shes eating?.. thats what popped into my mind after reading your question but theres also the possibility as others have said, somekind of metabolism issue whatever the issue if youre going to bring it up with your sister id step lightly at first.. dont make a big issue maybe casually mention next tiem they are over and shes stuffing her face that mayb your sister should ask her doctor what could cause her to have a "black hole" for a stomach

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions