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HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE EATING DISORDERS?

  • 27% of girls 12-18 have significant symptoms
  • 31% of female college students
  • 46% of 10 year old girls are dieting, have a fear of “fatness” or are binge eating
  • Doctors are seeing a growing group of women in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s with eating disorders
  • Although less common, boys and men can also have eating disorders, especially self-induced vomiting and inappropriate laxative use

WHAT ARE SOME SIGNS OF EATING DISORDERS?

  • Excessive concern about weight and body shape
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Disappearing to the bathroom after meals
  • Secretive eating or discovery that food is missing
  • Loss of menstrual cycles
  • Evidence of laxative abuse
  • Food group avoidance
  • Skipping meals
  • Avoiding eating in front of others

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANOREXIA AND BULIMIA?

  • Those who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa restrict their caloric intake for long periods of time and deliberately starve themselves. Weight loss is achieved by avoiding food, frenzied exercise, vomiting, laxatives and other means. An intense fear of becoming obese as well as a distorted body image are other characteristics.
  • Bulimia is associated with binge-eating and purging. Purging can be in the form of fasting, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercising or use of diuretics.
  • Anorexia and Bulimia are often present together.

CAN OVER-EATING OR OBESITY BE AN EATING DISORDER?

  • Yes, compulsive eating or binge eating is just as serious as anorexia or bulimia. A compulsive overeater is also using food to cope with their problems in life.

WHAT IS EXERCISE BULIMIA?

  • It is similar to other forms of bulimia, except the individual uses excessive exercise as the predominant method of purging. Sometimes the individual believes what they are doing is ok because exercise is healthy. But in reality, they are ignoring the psychological and physical damage to their bodies.

WHAT KIND OF MEDICAL COMPLICATIONS CAN HAPPEN AS A RESULT OF ANOREXIA OR BULIMIA?

  • Menstrual irregularities or loss of periods which can result in the inability to have children
  • Growth of facial hair on women
  • Weakening of the heart and other organs due to malnourishment
  • Dehydration and possible impaired kidney functions
  • Lowered resistance to infection
  • Loss of muscle tissue
  • Dehydration-altered brain function and size
  • Dizziness, weakness or fainting
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Sleep disturbance and fatigue
  • Severe dental problems including loss of teeth and bone
  • Death

WHAT CAN WE DO TO PREVENT EATING DISORDERS IN OUR CHILDREN?

  • Be a good role model. Your children will have enough pressure from the media and from their friends to obtain an unrealistic body weight. Try not to express dissatisfaction with your own body and weight in front of your children. Studies have shown that parents who display dissatisfaction with their bodies are more likely to have children with body image disturbances of their own.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE AN EATING DISORDER? I’M AFRAID TO TELL MY FAMILY.

  • You took a big step admitting you need help. Eating disorders are diseases that have devastating consequences, not only for the individual, but also for the people involved in their life. But, because it is a disease, you need professional support. I am sure if you entrust your family with the knowledge of what is going on with you, they will be there for you. If one of your children was suffering from an eating disorder, you would want to know and you would do everything to help them. Your family will want the privilege of being able to do the same thing for you.

WE HAVE A GOOD FRIEND WHO HAS A LOT OF EATING DISORDER SYMPTOMS. SHE DENIES HAVING A PROBLEM AND SAYS SHE’S JUST “NATURALLY THIN” OR “NOT HUNGRY,” BUT WE HAVE HEARD HER VOMITING AFTER EATING. WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

  • You are doing the right thing to try and help your friend. Eating disorders are serious diseases that without intervention can turn deadly. To overcome an eating disorder usually requires professional support. The best you can do is to encourage her to seek professional help. You are confronting the person because you are concerned. Remind them of this. Do not back down if she denies the problem. Offer support and empathy, but do not give up, if you really want to help her.

WHAT ARE THE RECOVERY RATES FOR THOSE WITH EATING DISORDERS?

  • Approximately ½ of those with anorexia or bulimia have a full recovery
  • Approximately 30% have a partial recovery
  • Approximately 20% have no substantial improvement in symptoms

CAN EATING DISORDERS CAUSE DEATH?

  • Yes. The mortality rate is approximately 5.6% per decade, which is 12 times higher than the normal death rate among young women.

 

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