April 20, 2010
Eating disorders have become a social epidemic in the developed world (Giordano 2010).Eating disorders affect 24 million people in the united states alone, and 70 million people worldwide (www.renfrew.org). What causes so many people to develop an eating disorder? and what treatments are available?
“I just need to lose a couple more pounds”, “ I’m so fat”,and “Why can’t I just look like that?” are some of the most common thoughts that cross the minds of people suffering from an eating disorder. We will be discussing not only the different types of eating disorders, but also what are believed to be some of the causes of the disorder and some of the newest treatments that have become available to people who are suffering from these disorders.Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by a reluctance to maintain the minimal normal body weight, a fear of becoming obese and a distorted idea of the body image. “Although this disorder can appear at any age, the peak age of onset is 14 to 18 years”(APA 2000). It is not hard to see why this would be the peak onset age taking into consideration that at 14 girls start highschool, which bring on the added pressure to look a certain way in order to fit in. As time has progressed it has become more apparent that this same pressure to fit in has been affecting more and more males. Women account for about 90 to 95 percent of people affected by anorexia nervosa, but men and boys account for the other 5 to 10 percent. Anorexia nervosa is a life threatening disorder which ifleft untreated can lead to serious medical problems down the road. For women, one of the main problems that might be encountered is the development of amenorrhea (which is the absence of menstrual cycles). Other problems can include, low blood pressure, and reduced bone mineral density. “Although most victims recover, between 2 and 6 percent of them become so seriously ill that they die, usuallyfrom medical problems brought by starvation or from suicide”(Comer 2008) . Anorexia nervosa is only one of the different eating disorders, let’s talk about bulimia.
Although people who suffer from bulimia nervosa are also driven by a fear of gaining weight and becoming obese, they carry out their fear in a different way. Rather than starving they’re bodies, people who suffer from bulimianervosa will suppress they’re appetite until they give into they’re cravings and have what is called a binge. A binge is an episode in which large amounts of food are consumed often up to 2500 calories in a short period of time upwards to an hour. Followed by this episode are extreme feelings of guilt and shame which in terms is what drives people suffering from bulimia to engage in compensatorybehaviors such a making themselves vomit, or consume laxatives or diuretics. “Like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa usually occurs in females, again 90 to 95 percent of the cases”(Freeman, 2005).
A third disorder is called binge-eating disorder which is still not listed in the DSM. This disorder affects people that are usually overweight, and people who suffer from a binge-eating disorder willindulge in binges like in bulimia nervosa where large amounts of food will be consumed in short periods of time with the difference that people who suffer from binge-eating disorder will not engage in compensatory behaviors after a binge. Anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of the American population will experience binge eating disorder (NIMH). This is the disorder in which males are more prone to beaffected by, 40 percent of people with this eating disorder are men.
There are believed to be four main causes of eating disorders: biological factors, family environment, psychological problems, and society. Let’s begin with the later one, society, something as simple as opening a magazine or turning on the television can explain why societal pressure might drive someone to develop an eating...