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What are major eating disorders?


Anorexia Nervosa

Symptoms: The constant refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for a person's height. An extreme concern over body shape and weight is also present along with an intense fear of weight gain. Patients have an overwhelming feeling of being fat despite dramatic weight loss. Girls who have reached puberty also experience a lapsed menstrual cycle.

Negative Attributes: Muscle loss and weakness in patients who do not exhibit purging behaviors. A slowed heart rate and low blood pressure are because of the weakening or loss of heart muscle. Osteoporosis, possible kidney failure, fatigue and general weakness, and dry skin may occur. Hair on the head is lost while downy hair (lanugo) growth all over the body increases. If purging is present, the negative attributes from bulimia nervosa are added.

Bulimia Nervosa

Symptoms: Binge-eating, the act of consuming large quantities of food in short periods of time, often in secrecy, without a feeling of control and without regard to hunger or fullness. After these binging episodes, purging usually follows, often in the form of self-induced vomiting as well as laxative or diuretic abuse. Excessive exercise or fasting may accompany this disorder, followed by an extreme concern over weight and body shape.

Negative Attributes: Heart irregularity or heart failure due to electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. Patients also incur gastrointestinal problems, such as a ruptured stomach, esophageal inflammation or rupture, irregular bowel movements, and ulcers, as well as tooth decay and tooth staining.

Binge-Eating Disorder

Symptoms: Binge eating, as seen in bulimia nervosa. Feelings of shame and disgust or guilt may be present after a binge-eating episode, but they are not followed by any compensatory behaviors.

Negative Attributes: Same as obesity in general, including increased risk of type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

For More Information

The National Eating Disorders Association warns that prevention efforts will fail or may actually encourage eating disorders if they concentrate solely on warning the public about signs, symptoms, and dangers. Such a focus, experts agree, ignores the underlying factors that need to be addressed. Inadvertently, the promotion of eating disorders may occur by providing details regarding unhealthful behaviors that lead to their adoption rather than to their discouragement.

(Source: National Eating Disorders Association, 2002.)

Eating Disorders in Young People

* Eating disorders are seen primarily seen in Western and industrialized countries and are often correlated with a culture that promotes slimness as a model for attractiveness.

* The incidence of eating disorders is in the rise in teenagers and children.

* Females are more susceptible than males, but about 10 percent of those with anorexia nervosa and 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorders are males.

* Eating disorders tend to appear around puberty but can develop at any age; they have been diagnosed in individuals from ages 7 to 80.

* Between 0.5 and 3.5 percent of all females have anorexia nervosa at some point in their lives, and more than 90 percent of these are adolescent and young women.

* From 1.1 to 4.2 percent of females experience bulimia nervosa at some point in their lives.

* Between 2 and 5 percent of Americans experience a binge-eating disorder in a six-month period, making it the most prevalent eating disorder.

* The mortality rate for eating disorders is 6 percent, probably the most deadly of all mental disorders in patients, incorporating starvation, cardiac arrest, and suicide.

* The estimated mortality rate among anorexia nervosa patients is about 12 times higher than the annual death rate among females between ages 15 and 24.

* From 5 to 20 percent of individuals with anorexia nervosa die prematurely.

* Women with anorexia nervosa are 50 times more likely to commit suicide than women in the general population.

* Family studies have made a connection between genetic susceptibility and anorexia nervosa as well as with bulimia nervosa.

* A young female is 20 times more likely to have anorexia nervosa if there is a sibling present with the disorder, suggesting that genetic and environmental factors that increase risk are at work.

(Sources: Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Binge Eating Disorders 2001.)
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Sep 22, 2012
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