You may have seen the cover article on our Spring Newsletter titled “Spotlight on Obesity: Is it just your weight?”  This article focuses not only on the epidemic of obesity in the U.S. but also on the serious health conditions that may result from obesity.  Although obesity is on the rise, however, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia still continue to be a problem, especially in women.  According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (2003) 90 percent of individuals with eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25.  Eating disorders are closely correlated with depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders, so it is important to diagnose and treat early.

The most common disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating.  You may already be familiar with these disorders, but they are listed below along with some the complications that may arise.

Anorexia nervosa is a disorder categorized by obsession with weight and food causing individuals to starve themselves or to exercise excessively in order to maintain a weight typically far below the normal weight range for their height and age.  Complications of anorexia include, heart problems, anemia, permanent bone loss, malnourishment, absent menstruation and death.

Bulimia nervosa is categorized by periods of binge eating followed by vomiting or excessive exercise to get rid of extra calories or weight.  Individuals with bulimia are similarly obsessed with weight and food.  Both disorders are closely tied to self-image and thus may be difficult to treat.  Complications of bulimia include heart problems, digestive problems, tooth decay, absent menstruation and death.

Binge-eating disorder is still not considered a psychiatric condition, but may be treated similarly to bulimia and anorexia.  Binge-eaters tend to consume unusually large amounts of food on a consistent basis.  This disorder may lead to obesity and complications associate with obesity such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.  In addition binge-eating disorder can cause psychological problems such as depression and suicidal thoughts.

Although the term eating disorder usually means one of the three disorders listed above, the term disordered eating is used to describe a variety of eating abnormalities that do not necessarily fall into, or are not severe enough to be categorized as one of the typical eating disorders.  Disordered eating may not be as serious in terms of complications, but it may lead to more serious eating disorders if left untreated or unaddressed.  According to a survey conducted by Self Magazine and the University of North Carolina, as many as 65% of American women between 25 and 45 exhibit disordered eating behaviors.  Women should not be afraid to seek help for issues they may have with eating, even if they do not think it is a severe eating disorder.  As peers, we should be supportive of women who are suffering from these diseases, and help them to overcome their issues.

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Comments

Thanks for speaking out about this terrible illness! That young women (and men) are plagued by eating disorders and disordered eating is not surprising. On the one hand, we live in a society (here in the West) that encourages women to be thin and diet almost non-stop. Yet, on the flip side, people are not taught how to eat healthy, nor do most restaurants or grocers offer healthy food choices. Sure, they pretend to, but when you read the labels on so-called healthy foods, the truth becomes apparent. They are filled with artificial sweeteners and a variety of additives that not only trigger unhealthy weight gain, but also can lead to serious health problems in the long term. Most days, when I know that I will be away from home for an extended period of time, I pack a small cooler in order to have healthy foods with me, as it takes too much time and effort to find a restaurant that sells healthy food or prepares dishes for health-conscious individuals. If I'd like to eat more than a prepackaged salad, I have to bring it with me. It's a shame that young women in this society aren't taught better eating habits in the first place. And then, that they are bombarded with images of thin "beautiful" women of which they aspire to imitate is just sad.

i would say depression and anxiety are the most common causes of these disorders. So it's best to focus the treatments on those causes. thanks for this valuable information

Thank you for reminding readers that the vast majority of obesity in young women is due to eating disorders. When we can remove the shame and treat these disorders with effective counseling, we will build a new generation of healthier, happier women and their families.

This is not surprising when our society is constantly striving to be thinner and thinner. We should be teaching our kids to eat healthy.

Good basic info...was looking for more so please keep more info coming.

Thanks for the article Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating. My daughter is going through various problems with her eating at present and it has been particularly useful article Stuart

Have no idea how come a girl could get this eating disorder. Have heard that it is caused by their psychological behavior. Thanks for sharing this great article. Love your life not your body. As long as we live in a healthy life we'll get the healthy body.

nice article, my small sister she is facing the same problem and i think eating disorders might have started the problem..thanks for the tips.

A considerable number of women, young and not so young suffer from some kind eating disorder. Contributing factor might be the way society look at women's physical attributes. Great share, continue to write more.

Many people find help in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. Some of us have been diagnosed as morbidly obese while others are undereaters. Among us are those who were severely bulimic, who have harmed themselves with compulsive exercise, or whose quality of life was impaired by constant obsession with food or weight. We tend to be people who, in the long-term, have failed at every solution we tried, including therapy, support groups, diets, fasting, exercise, and in-patient treatment programs. FA has over 500 meetings throughout the United States in large and small cities such as Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, Grand Rapids, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Austin, and Washington, D.C. Internationally, FA currently has groups in England, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. It's possible that joining a support group such as this can help others.

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