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Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders Two million people in the world suffer from eating disorders, whether it is anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Two thirds of teenage girls and one third of teenage boys do not like their bodies and the weights they are at. Many people suffer from related conditions like bulimia and anorexia but do not meet specific conditions to have their symptoms called that. This category is called unspecified eating disorders. Symptoms of unspecified eating disorders are restrained eating, binge eating, purging, fears of fatness, and distortion of body image. People suffer from eating disorders because of our society standards. Everyone wants to look like a supermodel but not everyone can.

They start to obsess about being thin and looking at their normal body weight as being fat when actually they are at a healthy weight. When they start judging their bodies, they set restrictions on what foods they can eat and intense hunger sets in. Normally, they go on eating binges because of the severe hunger pains that they can not overcome. Weight cycling then takes place when dieters go on energy restrictions followed by bingeing. Weight cycling results in losses and gains of weight.

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This habit can make weight loss much harder over time because it messes up your metabolism. Among people with eating disorders, athletes; primarily dancers, gymnasts, and endurance runners, can be seen with these problems. Society sets guidelines on how thin an athlete should be. Coaches and parents encourage their athlete to meet these standards, forcing many stresses and psychological problems on the person. Female athletes are at greater risk to develop an eating disorder.

Once they develop the disorder, they are most likely to assess the female athlete triad. If the female athlete gets these symptoms they develop the following chain of events: disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. Normally, a person pressuring them causes an athlete who displays these three symptoms to meet weight standards. An athletes weight should be heavier than a non-athletes weight should be because they have more muscle mass and muscle weighs more than fat. They try to get their weight down by not eating or by going on eating binges and then purging.

A better way to check your weight for an athlete is to check your percent body fat. For example, when I was in high school, my wresting team had to cut their weight so they could meet the criteria. They started to not eat meals anymore and then went on binges after they weighed in. Their coach forced these procedures on them to have a better wrestling team. Their percent body weight dropped to about 3 percent and they looked so unhealthy.

Their eyes sunk into their heads, and they were always depressed. I definitely dont think any coach should pressure their athletes to do this. It is very unhealthy and causes major problems for the athlete. Why not have an athlete wrestle at their natural weight then have a wrestler suck their weight down by 20 pounds where it is unhealthy. The second symptom of the athlete triad is amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is when a female athlete does not menstruate for three months or more. Amenorrhea is as high as 66 percent in female athletes.

This is caused by low estrogen levels, infertility and bone mineral losses. I think if a female has amenorrhea, why would they let it continue? It is so unhealthy, and it can do major damage to the body. You would think that if your period stops, you should do something about it because you know something is going wrong in your body. Some studies show that ballet dancers who suffer from amenorrhea with low body weight have more bone injuries then ballet dancers that have normal body weight. Other studies show that percentage body fat is not critical for normal menstruation: Nutrition Concepts and Controversies; Controversy 10.

I think I would have to disagree with the study that thinks you do not need normal percent body fat. From my experience, I think a female does have to be at normal percent body fat to menstruate normally. My friend, who was a gymnast for 15 years of her life, never menstruated. It was not until she stopped gymnastics after her senior year in high school that she began to menstruate. Her physical demands of being thin and meeting certain weights were complete and her body responded normally.

So I think percent body fat does play a role in amenorrhea. Osteoporosis is the third symptom of the athlete triad. Bone mass is reduced and therefore causes stress fractures and bone breakage during physical activity. Vigorous training combined with low food intake, triggers amenorrhea and then promotes bone loss. Amenorrheic athletes have bones similar to those of a 50-year-old woman. Women with amenorrhea are supposed to take 1500 milligrams of calcium each day.

There is talk of hormone replacement therapy for amenorrheic women but I do not think they should have this option. If a woman is starving herself to be thin then they are bringing about these problems themselves. If osteoporosis is caused by something other then an eating disorder then the female should be able to take the hormone replacement. Another eating disorder other than the unspecified eating disorders and the female athlete triad, is anorexia nervosa. When someone has anorexia, they are unaware of it.

Anorexia victims do not know they are undernourished and see no need for treatment. They stop menstruating, insist they are too fat, can not sleep, and look physically sick. Anorexics are always trying to lose more weight, as they are never happy with how they look. Only a psychiatrist can diagnose anorexia nervosa. Once diagnosed, the anorexic has to seek treatment and if they do not start to gain weight, they must be hospitalized.

Anorexic come from middle to upper class families. Men account for only about 1 in 20 cases in the general population. Eating disorders among male athletes are much more common though. Anorexics have to have self control. They are perfectionists, and their parents push them to be that way too.

They have strict discipline to strictly limit their portions of low-calorie foods. They deny their hunger; they can recite the calories in any food, and the calories they burn during exercise. If an anorexic feels they have gained any weight, they exercise till they feel they are thin again. Another way to hasten the digestion of the food is to take laxatives, which do not work anyway on an anorexics body. Anorexics are basically starving themselves but can not eat because the need for self-control dominates. Anorexia nervosa damages the body like starvation does.

In young cases, the growth stops and so does normal development. Losing their basal metabolic rate is harmful in the long run because once they get to adulthood, there metabolism is so slow, it can not digest food properly. The heart pumps irregularly and the muscle becomes weak and thin which causes blood pressure to fall. If people die of anorexia, it is normally from heart failure. To treat anorexia, there are two issues that need to be meet: the relationship with oneself and issues relating to food and weight. A diet is given to the anorexic, and if they are willing to eat themselves, they will recover.

If the anorexic does not want to eat, they will be hospitalized and fed intravenously to prevent death. I think anorexia nervosa is a psychological disease. After researching it, I found that it is a life threatening illness that has to be treated. I still wonder why somebody would do this to themselves, and why somebody would not help them right away if they see all the symptoms. Anorexics definitely need professional help and psychiatric help to cure their illness.

Bulimia nervosa is the other eating disorder seen in society. It is distinct from anorexia and is more prevalent. More men suffer from bulimia than they do anorexia. The illness of bulimia is seen of someone with normal weight and always thinks about food. They starve themselves and then go on eating binges, and after, make themselves throw up all the food they have just eaten.

Sometimes a bulimic can consume up to 10,000 calories in one sitting. Once someone recognizes the problem, diagnosis can be administered according to if the person is the purging type or the nonpurging type. A bulimics weight fluctuates over a range of 10 pounds every few weeks. A bulimic never lets the problem interfere with work or other activities. From childhood, they have been over achievers and emotionally dependent on their parents.

They started dieting at young ages. Bulimiacs have low self-esteem and are usually depressed. When a bulimic starts their binges, they choose high -carbohydrate foods with smooth textures and high fat. The foods consist of cakes, cookies, and ice cream normally. The binge occurs in stages: anticipating and planning, anxiety, urgent to begin, rapid and uncontrollable consumption of food, relief and relaxation, disappointment, and finally shame or disgust.

After the binge, they may use a cathartic- a strong laxative that can injure the over intestinal tract. An emetic can also be used which induced vomiting. You can normally tell a bulimic by their swollen neck glands, reddened eyes, bloating, fatigue, and rotting teeth. Bulimics are aware of their abnormal behavior and are ashamed of it. They want to recover and seek help unlike an anorexic who lives in denial.

To recover from bulimia, a strict diet is planned out. They are to eat enough food that satisfies their hunger needs for that meal. Sometimes it helps to plan the meals for the day in a food diary. Anorexia and bulimia share a lot of common symptoms but are two totally different eating disorders. They both display an over concern with body weight and both victims may indulge in purging. The two eating disorders may occur in the same person or one may lead to the other.

Whether it be socio-cultural, psychological, or neurochemical, people with eating disorders definitely need professional help if they ever want to cure their disease. If they do not have professional help, they most likely will never overcome their eating disorder. Works Cited Bruch, H. (1973). Eating Disorders: Obesity, anorexia nervosa, and the person within.

New York: Basic Books. Haworth-Hoeppner, Susan. The Critical Shapes of Body Image: The Role of Culture and Family in the Production of Eating Disorder. Journal of Marriage and the Family. Feb 2000, Vol.62 Issue 1, p212, 16p, 2 charts. Sizer, Frances and Whitney, Eleanor.

Nutrition Concepts and Controversies (7th edition). West/Wadsworth International Publishing Company. What Causes Eating Disorders? Pg. 414. Bibliography Bruch, H. (1973).

Eating Disorders: Obesity, anorexia nervosa, and the person within. New York: Basic Books. Haworth-Hoeppner, Susan. The Critical Shapes of Body Image: The Role of Culture and Family in the Production of Eating Disorder. Journal of Marriage and the Family. Feb 2000, Vol.62 Issue 1, p212, 16p, 2 charts.

Sizer, Frances and Whitney, Eleanor. Nutrition Concepts and Controversies (7th edition). West/Wadsworth International Publishing Company. What Causes Eating Disorders? Pg. 414.


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