Adolescent Medicine Eating Disorder Program

The Kentucky Children’s Hospital Adolescent Medicine Eating Disorder Program offers comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for young people struggling with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. Our team understands the challenges that come with treating eating disorders. 

We have a team of experts who specialize in caring for young people and their loved ones. Your child will get care based on the latest research and best practices in the field. We prioritize teaching families about eating disorders and how to best support their child. We also work closely with families to create individualized treatment plans that are tailored to a child’s specific needs.

Diagnosing eating disorders

Eating disorders are one of the most common chronic condition among adolescents and young adults, resulting in severe disturbances in attitudes and behaviors around eating, weight, shape and body image. They affect young people regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status or body shape and size. Eating disorders can be life-threatening.

With the right care and support, young people can recover from these conditions and lead healthy lives. Our program’s effective treatment methods can make a significant difference and even save lives. 

An initial appointment for evaluation at our clinic may last two to three hours. This gives the medical provider, dietitian and therapist plenty of time to assess your child for significant body image concerns, eating disorder behaviors and other mental health concerns. We talk with the child and family members individually and together based on need. Additional blood work or testing may also be required as part of the assessment. After the assessment, we discuss the diagnosis and proposed treatment plan with the family.

Treatment & services we provide

We provide individualized treatment that may include weekly appointments with a medical doctor, dietitian and/ or therapist. We will assess your child and may increase or decrease appointments as needed. Your child will get care from a comprehensive team of specialists, rather than appointments with only a dietitian or therapist.

Other services we provide include:

  • Collaboration with primary care providers for ongoing medical support.
  • Coordination of referrals to treatment facilities when a higher level of care is needed.
  • Recommendations and collaboration with therapists and dietitians outside of Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
  • Collaboration with the inpatient team in the hospital for nutritional care and medical stabilization for at-risk patients.
  • Collaboration with child psychiatry for management of co-existing mental health concerns.

Warning signs of eating disorders

Contact your child’s primary care provider if you notice signs of an eating disorder. Possible warning signs include:

  • Changes in eating habits: This can include rules around eating, special diets and secretive eating. Frequent trips to the restroom after eating can also be a sign of binge eating or purging. 
  • Weight changes: A large weight loss in a short period may be a sign of an eating disorder. Children may also be at an increased risk for disordered or destructive eating behaviors.
  • Menstrual irregularities: All eating disorders can cause irregular periods. Watch for changes in your child’s periods if you suspect an eating disorder. 
  • Physical problems: Eating disorders can increase the risk of serious health problems. These may include chest pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms may include constipation, tiredness, lethargy, poor concentration, hair loss, brittle nails or muscle weakness. 
  • Personality changes: Children with eating disorders may become irritable or isolate themselves. Many struggle with low self-esteem and body confidence.
  • Strict exercise routine: Some young people may become dependent on exercise and feel the need to move constantly.

Appointments for new patients

You will need to get a referral from your child’s primary care provider to make an appointment. We accept new patients between ages 12 and 20 and follow all patients until their 25th birthday. 

We will review your child’s medical records from their referring physician and may ask for additional tests before the first appointment.

If you are concerned about your child, you may call our clinic at 859-323-5643 to discuss if a referral to our program is appropriate and provide support to navigate your concerns.

Information & support


Recommended Books

  • “Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder” (James Lock & Daniel LeGrange)
  • “Survive FBT: Skills Manual for Parents Undertaking Family Based Treatment (FBT) for Child and Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa” (Marcia Ganci)
  • “How to Nourish Your Child Through an Eating Disorder: A Simple, Plate-by-Plate Approach to Rebuilding a Healthy Relationship with Food” (Casey Crosbie & Wendy Sterling)

Contact us

To contact our team, call the Adolescent Medicine Clinic at 859-323-5643.