DALLAS -- Eric Torres Pacheco, 17, is a brave young man. He's not hiding a secret anymore.

One year ago, Eric was admitted to Children's Medical Center of Dallas while suffering from chest pains. Equally alarming, he weighed just 92 pounds, down from a normal of 145.

Eric had decided that he wanted to eat healthy. He became a calorie counter, and carefully read over food labels. He dropped weight, but it was never enough.

I just wanted to drop more and more, Eric said.

Eric told us he didn't see a difference.

I looked in the mirror every morning, he said.

But his family noticed, and the change scared them. Eric's stepfather was the first to bring up the unhealthy weight loss.

The day that I saw him with no shirt [in his underpants,] I said, 'No, that's not right,' Juan Renteria said.

Everyone in the family suspected he had an eating disorder. Even though it was confirmed at the hospital, Eric was in denial.

After spending a week in the hospital treating his heart ailment, he went directly into in-patient treatment and intensive therapy.

He said for us to come and get him, because this place wasn't for him, said Eric's mother, Rosalva Pacheco. So it was very hard to see him cry because he wanted to come home.

Experts say males now make up 30 or 40 percent of people with eating disorders. They, like females, feel pressure to be thin and fit, as well as pressure to perform in sports and school, and are vulnerable to bullying.

Since most people including doctors associate eating disorders with young girls, it is often misdiagnosed among men.

It used to be, we'd go months without having a boy, and now we have two, three, four, six boys at any one time, said Dr. Stephanie Setliff, the director of Children's Pediatric Eating Disorder Program. We never do not have a boy in treatment.

Children's Medical Center of Dallas has the only pediatric eating disorders program in the state. In-patient treatment can be very successful, with intensive individual and family therapies.

Eric Torres is back to his normal weight of 145 pounds and the quiet teen said he's learned to open up about his feelings, and his family is proud of how he took control of his recovery.


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