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Health advice.

Byline: By Fiona Jordan

This week: eating disorders

Q: What is anorexia?

A: Anorexia nervosa is an illness in which people keep their bodyweight low by dieting, vomiting or excessively exercising.

Q: What causes it?

A: The illness is caused by an anxiety about body shape and weight that originates from a fear of being fat or wanting to be thin

Q: How does it affect people?

A: How people with anorexia nervosa see themselves is often at odds with how they are seen by others. It can cause severe physical problems including loss of muscle strength and reduced bone strength in women and girls. In older girls and women their periods often stop. Men can suffer from a loss of interest in sex or impotency.

Q: What is bulimia?

A: Bulimia nervosa is an illness in which people feel that they have lost control of their eating. Sometimes it develops out of anorexia nervosa. People with bulimia are caught in a cycle of eating large quantities of food (called "binge" eating) then vomiting or taking laxatives (called "purging") or excessive exercising or fasting to prevent gaining weight.

Q: What causes it?

A: Again people with bulimia evaluate themselves according to their body shape and weight

Q: How does it affect people?

A: The cycle of "binge" and "purge" can dominate their lives and lead to difficulties in relationships and social situations. They often experience mood swings and feel anxious and tense. Excessive vomiting can cause problems with the teeth, while laxative misuse can seriously affect the heart.

Q: What can I do if a member of my family has an eating disorder?

A: You might consider asking for help from a healthcare professional or a support group. They can advise you how to help the person with the eating disorder accept there is a problem and help you understand what role you might play in their care and treatment. You and your family are a key part of the recovery process.

Q: What can I do if I have an eating disorder?

A: You need to seek help from a healthcare professional such as your GP, practice nurse, school nurse or health visitor.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jul 7, 2004
Words:364
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