It seems today that eating disorders are on the rise. While this may be true, the numbers may appear to grow only because more cases are being brought out into the open. The purpose of this paper is to discuss eating disorders and prove the these disease, specifically Anorexia Nervosa, continue to plague of women due to psychological and environmental factors along with pressure from the media.
The term “Anorexia Nervosa” is misleading. It means “loss of appetite due to nerves.” But people with anorexia don’t actually lose their appetite until the late stages of their starvation. Until, they do feel hungry, but they just won’t eat. People affected by anorexia have an extreme fear of gaining weight. In addition to drastic dieting, they may resort to vomiting and the use of laxatives and diuretics to lose weight. Statistics show that many teens and young adults suffer from anorexia nervosa. Without treatment, anorexia nervosa can cause serious health problems--even death! The sooner treatment begins the better the chances for a full recovery.
The person with another anorexia is a model child. He/She is well behaved, eager to please, and a good student who gets along well with her peers. She rarely admits that anything is wrong or that anything is wrong or that she/he extra helps. Behind the mask is an insecure, self-critical perfectionist who feels unworthy of any praises she receives. A person who has anorexia is also very concerned about whether other people like her. Occasionally, she feels that there’s something wrong with her- that she’s bad or that her thoughts are disgusting. One interpretation of an eating disorder is termed is when the relationship between the person and food appears abnormal. ( Bruch ) Anorexia Nervosa is one of the most prevalent eating disorder decease. The definition of Anorexia, Dr. Barton J. Blinder gives an interpretation similar to this: Anorexia is an all-encompassing pursuit of thinness, occurring most often in adolescents and young adult woman. This is accomplished by avoidance of eating by any means possible. The person affected by Anorexia has an absolutely terrifying fear of becoming obese. In short, “food becomes the enemy;” one researcher described Anorexia as “weight phobia.” (Bruch ) Some experts believe that a fear of growing up is the root of the problem. Other experts see the disorder as a subconscious rebellion against parents who’ve set standards that are too high. All experts agree that food is not the central problem. There is evidence that people with anorexia secrete abnormal amounts of various hormones. But, many researchers believe these imbalances are the results of emotional stress and severe dieting, not the case of them. In our culture, “thin is in” and dieting is “normal” behavior. The pressure to be “the best” may also be a factor in the disorder’s development.
One of the most frightening aspects of the disorder is that people with anorexia continue to think they are overweight even then they are bone-thin. For reasons not yet understood, they become terrified of gaining any weight. Food and weight become obsessions. For some, the compulsiveness shows up in strange eating rituals or the refusal to eat in front of others. It is not uncommon for people with anorexia to collect recipes and prepare gourmet feasts for family and friends, but not partake in the meals themselves. They may adhere to strict exercise routines to keep off weight. Loss of monthly menstrual periods is typical in woman with the disorder. Men with anorexia often become impotent.
When one looks at the media today, it is difficult not to notice the fashion industry. To look at the fashion model’s who are 15% thinner than the average American woman, one can clearly see that underneath the season’s hottest new trends the taller-than-average woman, are very, very slender almost to the point of being gaunt. For example, Kate Moss (nicknamed ‘Skeleton’), Calvin Klein’s newest supermodel, sports the figure of the newest look for the fashion industry: the waif. This is the look that the media portrays to the public to say while million of children and adults look on. Studies show that children as young as six years of age see themselves as overweight and look up to such personalities of the fashion world as Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and the before-mentioned Kate Moss; all of whom are extremely thin. Society seems to teach the people that they have to look a certain way to be successful and accepted.
The effects of the environment can influence eating disorder. Family members can play a major role in the influence of eating disorders. For example when mother and father stress the importance of weight. Parents stress to their children that eating right will keep their body into shape. Parents do not like to see children being teased because of their weight so they try to keep them fit. Sometime the stress from the parents and/or if there is any physical or sexual abuse in the family, the child in this situation may lead to an eating disorder to have a way to control something in their life.
In conclusion, Anorexia Nervosa greatly affects all that are touched by it. Close family members and friends go through fighting battle with the person helping to serve this deathful battle. The information in this paper is just touching briefly on what can happen to someone with this disease called Anorexia. It is important that people are aware of these problems, know how to spot eating disorders, and help someone else or themselves overcome something like Anorexia.
Our group worked exceptionally hard on this project. Even though we worked hard, we also worked very well together, which made it easy to do this project. We all put incredible amounts of time into gathering information on our topic of Anorexia. We learned a lot about our topic, but most of all we made this assignment fun, and interesting, which is why I think we worked really well together.
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Types of Eating Disorders
Individuals are diagnosed as anorexic (according to the DSM-IV-TR) if they refuse to maintain the appropriate body weight (according to age and height), and have an intense fear of gaining any more weight - even though they are already underweight (Keel & Klump, 2003). Concisely, if patient "X" is significantly underweight, yet does not want to do anything to correct this then patient "X" is anorexic.
Bulimia nervosa, as defined by the DSM-IV-TR, is just as terrifying as anorexia nervosa. The criteria is as follows: Recurrent episodes of binge-eating--consuming an amount of food which is much larger than most would eat during a similar period of time--at least once a week for three months. A lack of control over binge eating. Recurrent and inappropriate behavior aimed at compensating for the weight gain, self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise. The subject�s self-evaluation is based on and influenced mainly by body shape and weight. (Keel & Klump, 2003) In short, a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa is if subject "X" eats more then he or she should, and then inappropriately extinguishes the weight because the subject is not the weight he or she fantasizes to be.
These two disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are alarming. Do they have particular risk factors? Can culture, socioculture or genetics cause them? What is their prevalence? These are questions which this paper addresses.
Causes of Eating Disorders
To determine if an eating disorder is culture bound data must be collected and sorted from various cultures along a timeline of many years. Are Eating Disorders Culture-Bound Syndromes? Implications for Conceptualizing Their Etiology, by Pamela Keel and Kelly Klump did just that. They attained statistics from an assortment of cultures and along a timeline of sixty years. The experiment was done for anorexia nervosa and duplicated for bulimia nervosa. The results were surprising. Anorexia nervosa does not seem to be a culture-bound syndrome. Bulimia nervosa on the other hand does seem to be culture-bound. There has been a significant increase in bulimia nervosa during the later half of the twentieth century. One striking fact is that every non-western nation that had evidence of bulimia nervosa also had evidence of western influence. The authors do not take this to be a coincidence (Keel & Klump, 2003).
Cashel, Cunningham, Cokley, and Muhammad, in Sociocultural Attitudes and Symptoms of Bulimia: Evaluating the SATAQ with Diverse College Groups, tested the affect of sociocultural attitudes on eating disorders. The method was to question an array of students from a Midwestern University in the United States. The participants consisted of both men and women. The procedure consisted of having the subjects fill out a structured questionnaire, the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire (SATAQ). After the questionnaire was finished a correlation between Caucasian women, all men, African American women, Hispanic American women, Caucasian sororities and Caucasian non-sororities to body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, and bulimia was calculated.. SATAQ Internalization was significantly correlated with EDI-2 (a self-report measure developed to assess a variety of symptoms reflective of eating disorders), Body Dissatisfaction and Drive for Thinness. SATAQ Awareness scores were extensively correlated with the Body Dissatisfaction and Drive for Thinness scales for the Caucasian American and Hispanic American female groups. The SATAQ Awareness scores for African American women and men were not considerably related to scores from the EDI-2. The extent of the correlations with eating disorders was the strongest for Caucasian and Hispanic American women (Cashel, Cunningham, Cokley, & Muhammad, 2003). To get to the point, this study proves that there is an affect of sociocultural attitudes on eating disorders.
A third possible cause for eating disorders is substance abuse by the parents. Von Ranson, McGue, and Lacono (2003) tested 674 females and their parents. Daughters underwent assessment of eating disorders while their parents underwent assessment of substance abuse. The results of this study show no correlation between parents with past substance abuse problems and their daughters� eating disorders.
Another possible cause for eating disorders is heredity. If a mother has an eating disorder does it mean her child will as well? Von Ranson et al. (2003) tested this possibility. The findings were chilling. The results show a high correlation between mothers that have eating disorders and daughters that have eating disorders. This strengthens the theory that eating disorders can be passed down from generation to generation.
Genetic relationships could be a cause of eating disorders. The most accurate way to study this hypothesis is by examining monozygotic and dizygotic twins. Monozygotic twins have identical genes, while dizygotic twins do not. The higher the correlation between monozygotic twins points to greater genetic causes and less environmental causes. A study by Klump, K., McGue, M. & Lacono, W titled: Genetic Relationships between Personality and Eating Attitudes and Behaviors was undertaken. The study showed an extremely high correlation between genetic influence and eating disorders for the monozygotic twins and a low correlation for the dizygotic twins. Data can be viewed in Chart G in Appendix I. This strengthens the idea that there is a significant genetic influence in eating disorders.
As presumed, there are many things that can cause an eating disorder. Sociocultural attitudes, heredity, and genetics are much stronger influences then substance abuse and culture causes. This is not enough. Factors such as parent-child bonds, economic status, and intelligence must be studied. Unfortunately they have not. In light of this, we seem to know very little about what actually causes eating disorders.
Prevalence of Eating Disorders
Table 1 shows the point prevalence (1 year) of adolescent males and females. Table A-2 shows the lifetime prevalence of the same adolescents (Andrews, Hops, Roberts, Seeley & Lewinsohn, 1993).
The data in tables A-1 & A-2 was collected by interviewing 10,200 adolescents (under the age of 18) and their parents that lived in a population of 200,000. They were interviewed two times by clinical psychologists or certified social workers. The second interview was about one year (13.3 month mean) after the first. The results of the experiment are divided into anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and further broken down by gender.
Focusing on the point prevalence (Table A-1), neither the adolescent males nor females were diagnosed with anorexia. With regards to bulimia nervosa, a significant number of females in interview one were diagnosed (Andrews, Hops, Roberts, Seeley & Lewinsohn, 1993). During the second interview, just one year later, the amount of females with bulimia nervosa rose.
The results of the lifetime prevalence show that during the one-year gap between the interviews the number of adolescent females diagnosed with anorexia nervosa almost doubled. The adolescent males show no signs of anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa, just as anorexia nervosa, nearly doubles for the female subjects. For males, a small portion were diagnosed with bulimia nervosa; and had a small rise in one year (Andrews, Hops, Roberts, Seeley & Lewinsohn, 1993).
Assessing these results shows the researcher that adolescents are at risk of developing an eating disorder. Females are obviously more at risk (Table A-1 & A-2), but males cannot be omitted. This also shows that adolescents were diagnosed with bulimia nervosa two times more then with anorexia nervosa.
Table B-1 shows the lifetime prevalence of adults with anorexia nervosa (Zhang, & Snowden, 1999). The full chart can be viewed in Appendix I Chart J. The results come from a study of 18,151 American adults (18 years and older). They are broken down into four groups of white, black, Hispanic, and Asian. The results show that white Americans are more vulnerable to be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa then minority groups.
Table C-1 shows the lifetime prevalence of adults with bulimia nervosa divided by sexual orientation. (Siever, 1994) 250 adults participated in the study. The full chart can be viewed in Appendix I Chart K. The results of these findings show that homosexuals, both male and female are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with bulimia nervosa.
In contrast of these prevalence findings you can conclude that anyone is at risk for becoming diagnosed with an eating disorder. In all cases women are at more risk then men. However, men should not be overlooked as victims, as they usually are. The "Eating Disorder Information Board" says that one out of six people with an eating disorder is a man (http://www.eatingdisorderinfo.org/men_eating_disorders.htm). Therefore, eating disorders should be taken very seriously by men, women, and parents of adolescents.Conclusion Do you know someone that has ever had an eating disorder? You answer is more then likely yes. This paper has proved that no sets of people are immune, and that there is a wide variety of ways to contract this disease. There are many causes of eating disorders � genetics, and sociocultural factors are the most relevant. Anyone is at risk for being diagnosed with an eating disorder, however adult women face the highest risk. In contrast, be aware. Learn if you are at high risk for catching this disease. Study the symptoms. If you are experiencing any of them, seek professional help. "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough we must do" (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe).
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