Eating disorders refer to a range of illnesses that are mainly typified by uneven eating habits as well as extreme distress and worry pertaining to one’s body weight or shape. Uneven eating habits may range from consuming insufficient or excessive amounts of food, which can return affect a person’s wellbeing. The most popular types of eating disorders include Binge Eating, Anorexia Nervosa as well as Bulimia Nervosa, which can occur among both the male and female populations (Krantz, 2015). This paper explores the various factors associated with Anorexia Nervosa as an example of eating disorders. The paper will define the disorder and explore the symptoms, characteristics, demographics, beliefs, prevalence and treatment associated with it.
Anorexia Nervosa as an example of an eating disorder
Anorexia Nervosa defines a psychological and perhaps a deadly eating disorder that is usually typified by inadequate food consumption, which eventually translate into extremely low body weight. Anorexia Nervosa tends to be used interchangeably with another term, anorexia, which describes an aspect of self-starvation or having little or no appetite. Anorexia Nervosa can prevail in the form of binge type where a person tends to purge each time he/she eats (Philip, 2015). This is usually due to a devastating feeling of distress or guilt that a person experiences after eating. As a result, a person compensates this feeling with vomiting, extreme exercising and misuse of laxatives. Anorexia Nervosa can also prevail in the form of restrictive Anorexia where a person tends to restrict the amount of food consumed thereby ingesting an amount that is way below the amount of calorie intake needed (Lucas, 2004).
Anorexia Nervosa is usually characterized by an alarmingly low body weight as compared to an individual’s BMI. According to Krantz (2015), people suffering from Anorexia Nervosa tend to have an irrational fear of adding weight, which leads to extreme but unnecessary weight loss. The disorder is further characterized by insufficient food intake, which leads to tremendously low body weight. People suffering from this disorder also exhibit a characteristic of self-esteem that overly reflects their body image. They also portray conducts such as purging whenever they eat in order to compensate for negative feelings associated with eating.
While people living with Anorexia Nervosa may constantly seek to hide their habits, certain symptoms may be apparent. The various symptoms associated with this disorder include continued dieting despite having lost a significant proportion of body weight. This means that people living with anorexia nervosa tend to strictly stick to a particular diet, which may include low-fat foods. People living with anorexia nervosa may also exhibit extreme obsession with nutrition, and hence, may be extremely cautious about viewing food labels, weighing proportions and maintaining food diary. Victims of this disorder may also pretend to eat while they may, in the real sense, be throwing or hiding food to evade eating (Lucas, 2004).
Anorexia nervosa can be diagnosed among both men and women. The disorder is however more common among women than among men. This is especially because women tend to be more concerned about their body image than men. In terms of age categories, anorexia nervosa is widely diagnosed among pre-teens, teenagers as well as young adults.
Statistical evidence indicates that anorexia nervosa is prevalent among people from all cultures as well as ethnic groups. In a study conducted by Philip (2015), about eight in every one thousand persons in United States suffer from anorexia disorder. This translates to about 1.3% of total male population and 1.8% of total female population. Statistical estimates show that between 0.4% and 4.5 % of female populations around the world have suffered from anorexia nervosa throughout their life. According to Duker (2012), anorexia nervosa is most prevalent among women aged between fifteen and twenty four years. The disorder is mostly prevails in the purge than restrictive subtype.
The exact cause of anorexia nervosa is not yet known. However, popular beliefs indicate that certain risk factors may contribute to development of this disorder. Being extremely worried about, and eventually paying significant attention to managing body weight is believed to contribute to anorexia. The desire to prevent possible increase in body weight can cause a person to be cautious about the type of food he/she is eating. The need to manage body weight can also cause a person to purge with the intention of removing excess food consumed, which may eventually translate to a disorder. Having a misconception about the social – cultural perception on health as well as beauty is also believed to cause anorexia. According to Lucas (2004), having a popular belief that the society perceives people with low body weight as beautiful can lead to a person becoming cautious about their body weight, which may eventually translate into an eating disorder.
There is no definite evidence showing that a specific treatment can be used to alleviate anorexia nervosa. Certain suggestions however indicate that an array of interventions can be used to relief the impact of this illness. Diet is suggested to be the most important treatment that can render positive results among people living with anorexia. Eating a variety of food products that will not only supply important nutrients but also supply a huge proportion of energy density is recommended. Suggestions also indicate that family-based therapeutic interventions can be used to treat people with anorexia nervosa. According to Duker (2012), different types of family-based therapies have particularly proven to render positive results among teenagers and young adults with anorexia nervosa. For instance, combined and disjoined family therapies have proven to relief the severe symptoms of anorexia nervosa among teenagers and young adults.
Anorexia nervosa is a common eating disorder that is mostly characterized by significant decline in the amount of food consumed, which in return leads to drastic decline in overall body weight. People suffering from this disorder often have a negative perception about their body image as well as beauty, and hence, belief that consuming very little food would enhance their appearance. This however can have serious implications in that a person can have very little weight compared to their BMI. There is no conclusive evidence showing the exact treatment that can be used to curb this disorder but suggestions indicate that family-based therapy and proper diet can be used to relief its impact.
Duker, M. (2012). Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia: How to Help. London: Open University Press.
Krantz, M. (2015). Treatments of Medical Complications of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, Journal of Eating Disorders, 3: 239-721.
Lucas, A. (2004). Demystifying Anorexia Nervosa: An Optimistic Guide to Understanding and Healing. New York: Oxford University Press.
Philip, M. (2015). Anorexia Nervosa? Medical Complications, Journal of Eating Disorders, 3(31): 609-877.