A retrospective and longitudinal study was carried out on all children and adolescents who presented to a child psychiatry service over a period of 26 years to identify the nature, course, and outcome of cases meeting criteria for anorexia nervosa (n = 27). Two groups of the same age were identified for comparison, firstly those with food avoidance and emotional disorders (n = 23), and secondly those with emotional disorders but no symptoms associated with eating (n = 22). The results confirm previous reports that early onset anorexia nervosa shows a similar nature, course, and outcome to the adult disease. Being tall at presentation seems to be associated with a poor outcome. Self starvation of early onset may result in short stature in some cases. There seem to be more boys among the group in whom the disease was of early onset than would be predicted from the sex ratio among adult patients. In addition boys with anorexia nervosa may have a better prognosis than girls. Children with food avoidance emotional disorders seem to have a worse prognosis than expected for childhood emotional disorders. They may represent a middle group between those with anorexia nervosa and those with emotional disorders but no symptoms associated with eating.
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