Everybody eats. However, according to the human behavior, there are huge differences between people. Some eat more, some eat less, some put on weight easily, and other does not. And some people go to such extremes that they harm themselves, by eating too much or too little. As a result they may harm their health and come to the attention of doctors. This research deals with anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that usually strikes women. Of the seven million women aged 15 to 35 who have an eating disorder, many will die from the complications of anorexia. Anorexia may not be noticed in the early stages because it often starts as an innocent diet. They often become hyperactive because they exercise frantically in an attempt to burn calories to lose weight.
There are many reasons as to why women develop anorexia nervosa. One is that it is dieting taken to a dangerous extreme. Another is that societal pressures dictate a woman be thin in order to be beautiful – the “waif look” was recently popular. But what these theories come down to is an issue of control. Whatever else is going on in the anorexic’s life, the one thing that she feels she can control is food.
Anorexia begins with the everyday dieting that is so much a part of teenager life. About a third of anorexia sufferers have been overweight before starting to diet. Unlike normal dieting, which stops when the desired weight is reached, in anorexia the dieting and the loss of weight continue until the sufferer is well below the normal limit for her age and height. The tiny amount of calories that she is taking in may be disguised by the quantities of fruit, vegetables and salads that she eats. Also, she will often exercise vigorously or take slimming pills to keep her weight low. Moreover, in spite of her own attitude to eating, she may take an avid interest in buying food and cooking for others.
There are many diagnostic criteria on anorexia nervosa if people have this kind of sickness. First of all, they are refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height. For example, weight loss leading to maintenance of body weight less than 85% of that expected; or failure to make expected weight gain during period of growth, leading to body weight less than 85% of that expected. Besides, they have intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight. Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight. For most sufferers it will be important to discuss things that may be upsetting them. For examples boys, school, self-consciousness, family problems, etc.
Although technically the word anorexia means ‘loss of appetite’, sufferers with anorexia actually have a normal appetite, but drastically control their eating. According to the research paper, anorexia nervosa is not biological and hereditary. The most important reasons are people’s psychological thinking.
In societies, which do not value thinness, eating disorders are very rare. In surroundings such as ballet schools, where people value thinness extremely highly, they are very common. Generally in Western cultures ‘thin is beautiful’. Television, newspapers and magazines are full of pictures of slim, attractive young men and women. They push miracle diets and exercise plans to enable us to mould our bodies to the pattern of these artificial, idealized figures, to conform to the shape the media tell us we should be. As a result, almost everybody diets at some time or other. It is easy to see how this social pressure might cause some young women to diet excessively and eventually to develop anorexia.
There are at least 8,000,000 or more anorexia nervosa victims in the world nowadays. It is estimated that six percent of serious die. There are ninety percent are women. Male cases are being reported with increasing frequency. Therefore, eating disorders can lead to death or life-long problems in the self-starver and even in those of normal weight whom compulsively binge and purge, but it can be cured.
If someone has become excessively thin and her periods have stopped, it makes sense for her to try to get back to somewhere near an acceptable weight. To help with this, medicine cannot help to solve this sickness. The most important thing is that the sufferers themselves. They have to learn the consequences of not eating. Then, they will make the right decision consciously. First of all, both she and her family will first need information. What is a ‘normal’ weight for her? How many calories are needed each day to get there? For many suffers, the most important question is, “How can I make sure that I don’t shoot past that weight and become fat?” In anorexia, the patient has excessive control of her eating. How can she ease up? For youngsters still living at home, it is the parents’ job to watch over the food that is eaten, at least for a while. This involves both making sure that she has regular meals with the rest of the family, and that she gets enough calories. Mounds of lettuce can be very deceptive. It is also important that the family see the psychiatrist regularly both to check on weight and for support, as having an anorexic in the family can be extremely stressful. Besides this, parents should encourage their anorexic children to join a self-help group in which other people share similar problems.
These groups can provide both information and support during the difficult times that everybody with these problems goes through. It is obvious that it cure the anorexia easily if the suffers didn’t hurt too much.
Insel, P. M., Roth, W. T. (1996). Core Concepts in Health. Toronto: Mayfield.
Gill, K. B. (1995). Who suffers from anorexia nervosa. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia, 275-276.
Zerbe, J. Y. (1997). Eating Disorders. Harvard College Research Groups.