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What are anorexia and bulimia?
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the two main eating disorders. People with anorexia have extreme weight loss as a result of very strict dieting. Some peoplemay also make themselves sick, abuse laxatives or do excessive exercise to try and lose weight. In spite of this extreme weight loss, people with anorexia believe they are fat and are terrified ofbecoming what is in fact a normal weight or shape. About four out of ten people with fully established anorexia make a full recovery, and others improve. Only about three in ten continue to have majorlong-term illness. Untreated, about 15 per cent of all sufferers will die from the disorder within 20 years of its onset.
People with bulimia nervosa crave food and binge eat, though they are notemaciated. Afterwards they make themselves sick or misuse laxatives to get the food out of their bodies. Sufferers are very afraid of becoming fat.
Who has anorexia or bulimia?
Anorexia nervosa mostcommonly starts in the mid-teens. About one in a hundred 16 to 18 year olds has the illness. It is much more common in girls. Bulimia nervosa usually starts when people are a little older, but isagain more common in girls. Bulimia is more common than anorexia, although people with anorexia in particular do not always ask for treatment.
Occasionally men develop eating disorders, but anorexianervosa is rare. Male development in puberty is very different from that of females. Related bodily concerns are different and less often lead to the extremes of dieting which commonly precedeanorexia nervosa.
What causes eating disorders?
Eating disorders may develop partly in response to difficult life experiences such as abuse or social pressures arising in puberty and in growing up. Theyare also more common in cultures where it is considered desirable to be slim. Genetic factors seem to be important, especially in anorexia. Sometimes people with an eating disorder are depressed,...
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