14/08/2014 12:47 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Anorexic At Six Years Old

Girl developed anorexia when she was in kindergarten - mum shares story

A mum has told how her daughter developed anorexia nervosa when she was at kindergarten.

At the age of six, Sophie began starving herself by giving up sweets, cutting down on her portion sizes, and, reports ABC News, exercising 'compulsively' on monkey bars.

Her mum Anne, a college professor, had no idea that her daughter was in the clutches of anorexia because her height and weight looked normal on medical growth charts and although she was slim, she was not, she says, 'skeletal'.

Sophie's eating disorder came to light when Anne was putting her to bed one night and she suddenly blurted out 'Mommy, I have a problem'.

The little girl went on to explain that she was 'hungry all the time' but could not eat, and that a 'voice in her head' told her not to consume food.

Sophie was eventually diagnosed with anorexia when she was seven. She had failed to gain any weight in a ten-month period, and had dropped from the 60th to the 19th percentile on the weight charts.

Sophie was adopted, so her mum had no medical history to turn to see if anyone else in her family had suffered from an eating disorder.

Eventually, Anne researched the condition online, and found the 'Magic Plate' approach to feeding children via the organisation FEAST, who also helped secure treatment for Sophie at a centre in Seattle.

Her mum says that Sophie's anorexia could have been promoted by taking instructions to eat healthily to the extreme.

"Her memories are that her teacher had told her she had to eat healthy, and she's the kind of kid who reads between the lines of all the rules and follows them to the letter better than anyone else," Anne said.

"She is a perfectionist and has always been an anxious kid."

Now eight, Sophie is said to be 'doing well' after treatment and therapy, although her mealtimes are still supervised as, without monitoring, she slips back into food restricting.

"She's got a little padding so when she got the stomach flu you don't have to worry that she'll lose a couple of pounds and fall down the rabbit hole again," Anne said. "She runs and plays, but the compulsive exercise is gone."