All About Eating Disorders

Experts discuss the symptoms, possible causes, as well as potential victims of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a condition in which a person intentionally starves themselves out of the fear of becoming fat, despite already being critically underweight (typically 15% or more below recommended weight levels based on a height-weight analysis.) In contrast, bulimia nervosa is centered around binge eating, following by self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diet aids, or excessive exercise in order to mitigate or be rid of the calories involved with eating. Much like anorexia nervosa, a person with bulimia nervosa is dissatisfied with their weight or shape, and has an obsessive fear of becoming fat. Both disorders are classified as psychiatric disorders with physical implications. Females are especially susceptible to this disease due to the higher range of body fat common among women. Anorexia and bulimia also tend to occur more frequently in industrialized societies, and predominantly among white women, although there has been an increase in occurrence of eating disorders in minority groups. Researchers have identified both genetic causes, as well as societal causes, due to the increasing pressure from society to be thin.

Key Points:

  • 1Anorexia involves people who intentionally starve themselves when they are already underweight.
  • 2People suffering from this disorder have an intense fear of becoming fat, even when they are extremely underweight, and are usually unable to perceive their physical appearance accurately.
  • 3A minority of persons with anorexia engage in binge eating or purging. This contrasts with “restricting” anorexics who maintain their low body weight by dieting alone.

Persons with bulimia, like those with anorexia, are very dissatisfied with their shape and weight, and their self-esteem is unduly influenced by their appearance.

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