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Eating Disorder Information

 

What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are real, complex, and devastating conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships. They are not a fad, phase or lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’semotional and physical health. People struggling with an eating disorder need to seek professional help. The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physicaland emotional recovery.

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) (Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011). For various reasons, many cases are likely not to be reported. In addition, many individuals struggle with body dissatisfaction and sub-clinical disordered eating attitudes and behaviors, and the best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction (Stice, 2002). By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life (Smolak, 2011).

Factors That May Contribute to Eating Disorders:

Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. Scientists and researchers are still learning about the underlying causes of these emotionally and physically damaging conditions. We do know, however, about some of the general issues that can contribute to the development of eating disorders. NEDA acknowledges that there may be a difference of opinion among experts and in the literature on this topic, and we encourage readers to explore the topic further, using all reliable sources available to them.

While eating disorders may first appear to be solely about food and weight preoccupations, those suffering from them often try to use food and the control of food to cope with feelings and emotions that may otherwise seem overwhelming. For some, dieting, bingeing and purging may begin as a way to cope with painful emotions and to feel in control of one’s life. Ultimately, though, these behaviors will damage a person’s physical and emotional health, self-esteem and sense of competence and control.

Psychological Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders:

·         Low self-esteem

·         Feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life

·         Depression, anxiety, anger, stress or loneliness

 

Interpersonal Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders:

·         Troubled personal relationships

·         Difficulty expressing emotions and feelings

·         History of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight

·         History of physical or sexual abuse

 

Social Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders:

·         Cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” or muscularity and place value on obtaining the “perfect body”

·         Narrow definitions of beauty that include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes

·         Cultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths

·         Stress related to racial, ethnic, size/weight-related or other forms of discrimination or prejudice

 

Biological Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders:

·         Scientists are still researching possible biochemical or biological causes of eating disorders. In some individuals with eating disorders, certain chemicals in the brain that control hunger, appetite, and digestion have been found to be unbalanced. The exact meaning and implications of these imbalances remain under investigation.

·         Eating disorders often run in families. Current research indicates that there are significant genetic contributions to eating disorders.

 

Eating disorders are complex conditions that can arise from a variety of potential causes. Once started, however, they can create a self-perpetuating cycle of physical and emotional destruction. Successful treatment of eating disorders requires professional help.

You can find continued informaion on specific Eating Disorders below:
Below Information From:  http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/


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Anorexia: 
is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. 


About Anorexia 

• Approximately 90-95% of anorexia nervosa sufferers are girls and women.
• Between 0.5–1% of American women suffer from anorexia nervosa.
• Anorexia nervosa is one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses in young women.
• Between 5-20% of individuals struggling with anorexia nervosa will die. The probabilities of death   increases within that range depending on the length of the condition.
• Anorexia nervosa has one of the highest death rates of any mental health condition.
• Anorexia nervosa typically appears in early to mid-adolescence.

 

Anorexia Symptoms

• Resistance to maintaining body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height.
• Intense fear of weight gain or being "fat," even though underweight.
• Disturbance in the experience of body weight or shape, undue influence of weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of low body weight.

Eating disorders experts have found that prompt intensive treatment significantly improves the chances of recovery. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of anorexia nervosa.

Anorexia Warning Signs

• Dramatic weight loss.
• Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting.
• Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g. no carbohydrates, etc.).
• Frequent comments about feeling "fat" or overweight despite weight loss.
• Anxiety about gaining weight or being "fat."
• Denial of hunger.
• Development of food rituals (e.g. eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate).
• Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food.
• Excessive, rigid exercise regimen--despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to "burn off" calories taken in.
• Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
• In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.

Health Consequences of Anorexia 

Anorexia nervosa involves self-starvation.; The body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally, so it is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy. This "slowing down" can have serious medical consequences:

• Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
• Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
• Muscle loss and weakness.
• Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
• Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
• Dry hair and skin, hair loss is common.
• Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.

 

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Bulimia: 

is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to

undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.


About Bulimia 

• Bulimia nervosa affects 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women.
• Approximately 80% of bulimia nervosa patients are female.
• People struggling with bulimia nervosa usually appear to be of average body weight.
• Many people struggling with bulimia nervosa recognize that their behaviors are unusual and perhaps dangerous to their health.
• Bulimia nervosa is frequently associated with symptoms of depression and changes in social adjustment.

 Bulimia Symptoms

• Regular intake of large amounts of food accompanied by a sense of loss of control over eating behavior.
• Regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, fasting, and/or obsessive or compulsive exercise.
• Extreme concern with body weight and shape.

The chance for recovery increases the earlier bulimia nervosa is detected. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of bulimia nervosa.

Warning Signs of Bulimia 

• Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or finding wrappers and containers indicating the consumption of large amounts of food.
• Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics.
• Excessive, rigid exercise regimen--despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the compulsive need to “burn off” calories taken in.
• Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area.
• Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
• Discoloration or staining of the teeth.
• Creation of lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge-and-purge sessions.
• Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
• In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
• Continued exercise despite injury; overuse injuries.

Health Consequences of Bulimia 

Bulimia nervosa can be extremely harmful to the body. The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles can damage the entire digestive system and purging behaviors can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions. Some of the health consequences of bulimia nervosa include:

• Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death. Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
• Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
• Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
• Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
• Gastric rupture is an uncommon but possible side effect of binge eating.

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Binge Eating Disorder (BED):
is characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.



About Binge Eating Disorder

• The prevalence of BED is estimated to be approximately 1-5% of the general population. 
• Binge eating disorder affects women slightly more often than men--estimates indicate that about 60% of people struggling with binge eating disorder are female, 40% are male. 
• People who struggle with binge eating disorder can be of normal or heavier than average weight. 
• BED is often associated with symptoms of depression. 
• People struggling with binge eating disorder often express distress, shame, and guilt over their eating behaviors.
 
Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

• Frequent episodes of eating large quantities of food in short periods of time. 
• Feeling out of control over eating behavior during the episode.
• Feeling depressed, guilty, or disgusted by the behavior. 
• There are also several behavioral indicators of BED including eating when not hungry, eating alone because of embarrassment over quantities consumed, eating until uncomfortably full.


Health Consequences of Binge Eating Disorder

The health risks of BED are most commonly those associated with clinical obesity. 
Some of the potential health consequences of binge eating disorder include:
• High blood pressure 
• High cholesterol levels 
• Heart disease 
• Diabetes mellitus 
• Gallbladder disease 
• Musculoskeletal problems
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Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
E
ating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. They are serious disorders and can have life-threatening consequences. The same is true for a category of eating disorders known as eating disorders not otherwise specified or EDNOS. These serious eating disorders can include any combination of signs and symptoms typical of Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge-eating Disorder. 


 

The following are some common examples of eating disorders not otherwise specified, but your experience may be different. If you are concerned about your eating and exercise habits and your thoughts and emotions concerning food, activity and body image, we urge you to consult an ED expert.

Examples of EDNOS
• All conditions are present to qualify for anorexia nervosa except the individual's current weight is in the normal range or above.
• Purging or other compensatory behaviors are not occurring at a frequency less than the strict criteria for bulimia nervosa
• Purging without Binging—sometimes known as purging disorder
• All criteria for Binge-eating disorder are met, except that the binge eating occurs less frequently than the criteria for BED.
• Chewing and spitting out large amounts of food but not swallowing

The commonality in all of these conditions is the serious emotional and psychological suffering and/or serious problems in areas of work, school or relationships. If something does not seem right, but your experience does not fall into a clear category, you still deserve attention.

 

 

**Above information from:  http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/


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