With diet fads and exotic new methods of weight-loss making headlines almost every week, it is little wonder that the high incidence of eating disorders continues to be problematic. Celebrities in particular are often seen as trusted sources of weight-loss information, with endorsements by the dozens for low-carb, no-carb, fat-free, high protein and liquid diets hitting the front page of popular teen magazines every day of the week. Most teenagers who fall victim to eating disorders have little or no knowledge of the long-term effects caused by binge eating, purging or starvation diets, nor do they usually care. Therefore, parents need to be armed with information so they are able to recognize the early warning signs of eating disorders.
Eating disorders are brought on by psychological instability, where the person becomes obsessed with their body image, and feels as though they are overweight. They become so paranoid about how they look that they make poor eating choices, such as avoiding all fats and carbohydrates. Unlike anorexia nervosa, a person who has bulimia does not restrict their food intake. With bulimia, there may not be any physical evidence such as rapid weight loss to see for some time. Abnormal behaviors such as binge eating and forcing oneself to vomit makes the sufferer believe they are in control of that they eat. They mistakenly believe that purging will stop their body from gaining weight by not giving food a chance to digest and absorb unwanted calories.
Binge Eating Disorder is another type of eating disorder, where people binge, but do not purge the food later. Binge Eating Disorder often occurs with people of an older age group than anorexia, and is also psychological. People with binge eating disorder are generally at or above a healthy weight, and are likely to look for help to lose the weight, rather than ask for counseling for their eating problems. All eating disorders require counseling to uncover the root psychological cause which bought on the abnormal eating patterns in the first place. Suffers need professional help to improve the person image of themselves, and to get back on a regular, healthy eating plan.
Some people with eating disorders will embark on an excessive exercise regimen in conjunction with radically decreased food intake. This type of behavior is known to cause amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is a condition that is brought about by a hormone imbalance; estrogen levels become too low, and breakdown of the bone structure can occur. The hormone imbalances also cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle. The sufferer can become severely dehydrated which in turn causes problems with muscle function, fatigue, lethargy, hair loss, and even death from cardiac arrest.
Genetics often play a role in eating disorders, and counseling is required to help improve the person’s self-image and reverse the notion that eating will cause them to gain weight. Most people with anorexia are painfully thin, although they see themselves as overweight, regardless of how much they lose.
With the fad diet and rigorous exercise regimens touted by so many celebrities are highly effective, it is little wonder that young people rate losing weight among their highest priorities, regardless of whether they are overweight or not. Combined with low-self esteem, genetics or a pre-existing psychological disorder, the chances of falling prey to media hype and peer pressure and developing an eating disorder are significantly higher.
Grosvenor, M. B., & Smolin, L. A. (2006). Nutrition: Everyday choices. New Jersey: John Wiley &