Eating Disorders

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is characterized by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to detriment of an individual's

physical and emotional health.

Psychology Of Eating Disorders

An eating disorder likely involves abnormal activity distributed across brain systems. With increased recognition that mental disorders are brain disorders, more researchers are using tools from both modern neuroscience and modern psychology to better understand eating disorders. Additionally, eating disorders appear to run in families so research on genetic factors continues.Other factors—psychological, interpersonal and social—can play roles in eating disorders. Psychological factors that can contribute to eating disorders include low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life, depression, anxiety, anger, or loneliness. People with anorexia see themselves as overweight even though they are dangerously thin. In bulimia, despite sufferers usually weighing within the normal range for their age and height, like individuals with anorexia, they may fear gaining weight, desire to lose weight, and feel intensely dissatisfied with their bodies. Many with binge-eating disorders are overweight for their age and height, feelings of self-disgust and shame associated with this illness can lead to bingeing again, creating a cycle of binge-eating.

These are the most common Eating Disorders around the map;

Anorexia Nervousa

The term Anorexia which is greek which means “lack of appetite .” Anorexia is an eating disorder, determined by low body weight and body image distortion. It is an obsessive fear of gaining weight.

Bulimia Nervousa

Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder. It is often called just bulimia. A person with bulimia eats a lot of food in a short amount of time. Followed by puking up all that was consumed so one feels no hunger while no food is in their system.

Binge Eating

Binge eating disorder is newly regonized as a type of eating disorder. It is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating that occur twice week or more for a period of at least six months. During bingeing, a larger than normal amount of food is consumed in a short amount of time, and the person engaging in this behavior feels a loss of control over the eating.

Anorexia Athletica

Anorexia Athletica is a bunch of disordered behaviors on the eating disorders spectrum that is distinct from Anorexia Nervousa or Bulimia Nervousa. Although Anorexia Athletica is not reconized by the standard mental health diagnostic manuals, the term Anorexia Athletica is commonly used in mental health literature to represent a disorder characterized by excessive, obsessive exercise. Also known as Complusive Exercising, Sports Anorexia, and Hypergymnasia. Anorexia Athletica is mostly found in pre-professional and elite athletes, though it can also exist in the general population.


Eating disorders can be treated and a healthy weight can be restored. The sooner these disorders are diagnosed and treated, the better the outcomes are likely to be. Because of their complexity, eating disorders require a comprehensive treatment plan involving medical care and monitoring, professional interventions, nutritional counseling and, when appropriate, medication management.

Treatment of anorexia calls for a specific program that involves three main phases: restoring the person to a healthy weight lost to severe dieting and purging; treating psychological disturbances such as distortion of body image, low self-esteem, and interpersonal conflicts; and reducing or eliminating behaviors or thoughts that lead to disordered eating, and preventing relapse.

Some research suggests that the use of medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilizers, may be modestly effective in treating patients with anorexia by helping to resolve mood and anxiety symptoms that often co-exist with anorexia. Recent studies, however, have suggested that antidepressants may not be effective in preventing some patients with anorexia from relapsing. In addition, no medication has shown to be effective during the critical first phase of restoring a patient to healthy weight. Overall, it is unclear if and how medications can help patients conquer anorexia, but research is ongoing.

Different forms of psychotherapy, including individual, group and family-based, can help address the psychological reasons for anorexia nervosa. Some studies suggest that family-based therapies in which parents assume responsibility for feeding their afflicted adolescent are the most effective in helping a person with anorexia gain weight and improve eating habits and moods. Others have noted that a combined approach of medical attention and supportive psychotherapy designed specifically for anorexia patients is more effective than just psychotherapy. But the effectiveness of a treatment depends on the person involved and her situation.

Hospital based care (including inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and/or residential care in an eating disorders specialty unit or facility) is necessary when an eating disorder has led to physical problems that may be life-threatening, or when it is associated with severe psychological or behavioral problems.

Eating Disorder Deaths World Wide Yearly:

United States
South Korea
South Africa
New Zealand

The Medias Affect on Adolescents

  • Negative influence in teenagers that has grown over the last years are anorexia and obesity. There are millions of adolescents fighting obesity, but at the same time they are exposed to thousands of advertisements of junk food, while the ideas image of a successful person is told to be thin and wealthy.
  • Also more women are obsessive with losing weight even when they are not obese, there are many thin women that want to look like the super models and thin celebrities so they engage in eating disorders which leads to severe health issues and even death.
  • The media and society believe its all about these beautiful people trying to lose weight when that's really not what eating disorders are about. Eating Disorders are more then food and eating, its much more about peoples sense and selfesteem and identity and who they are, and what they've become.

* It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder-7 million women and 1 million men.
* One in 200 women suffers from anorexia.
* Two to three in 100 american women suffer from bulimia.
* Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder.
* An estimated 10%-15% of people with amorexia are males.
* Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
* A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosia and Associated Disorders reported that 5%-10% of anorexics will die within 10 years after contracting the diesease; 18%-20% of anorexics will be dead within 20 years, and only 30%-40% will ever fully recover.
  • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosia is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
  • The cost of outpatient treatment, including therapy and medical monitoring can extend to $100,000 or more.
  • Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness amoung adolescents.
  • 95% of those who have eating disorders are between ages of 12 and 25.
  • 50% of girls between ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as over weight.
  • 80% of 13 year olds have attemped to lose weight.


Body image is not a problem just found in women. Many studies have shown that a surprisingly high number of men are dissatisfied with their appearence. One American study, for example, found that 43% of men were not happy with their overall appearence. An even more severe form of body image disorder, dysmorphia is an underreconized yet relatively common and severe disorder. This disorder affects as many men as it does women and consists of a preoccupation with an imaged or slight defect in the appearence that causes clinically significant destressing or impairment in functioning. Patients with body dysmorphia often present to non-psychiatric physicians, with reported rates of 12% in dermatology settings and 7%-15% in cosmetic surgery settings. Although the symptoms might sounds trivial, a high number of patients require admission to hospital, become housebound, and attempt suicide. In a study of dermatology patients who committed suicide had bad acne or body dysmorphic disorder.

The Roles Genetics Play in Eating Disorders
Anorexia may have a genetic basis. There is a tendency for the disorder to run in families, with first- and second-degree relatives of anorectic individuals being significantly more likely to develoAp the disorder compared with first- and second-degree relatives of a control group on non-anorectics. The behavioural interpretation sees anorexia as a phobia concerning the possibility of gaining weight. Sociocultural explanations focus in on societal norms and the cultural idealization of the slender female as possible causes for fears of being fat.

Gender Differences in Eating Disorders

In male eating disorders, most men deny that they do have an eating disorder, they also reuse to go seek proper help. Some men have died from not seeking proper health, The University of Toronto, evaluated and compared 62 men and 212 women with eating disorders with a group of almost 3,800 men with no eating disorders.
35% of men are "dieting" its can all start at the age of 15-25.. 1-2% have anorexia and 3-5% ha ve bulimia, Eating diorders have the higegst mortalitly rateof all mental illsess, with 10% to 20% eventually dyng from complications.

Men and Eating Disorders

Many people have the false impression that eating disorders affect only women; in fact, research indicates that eating disorders can affect people of all ethnicities, races, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, and genders. The cultural ideal for male body shape emphasizes an athletic, muscular build. While some males with eating syndrome focus primarily on weight loss, others may work toward “bulking up” by gaining muscle and losing fat. Males that participate in sports that require weight restriction may be particularly vulnerable to eating disorders. Despite different societal expectations for men and women, the underlying conflicts associated with eating disorders are often very similar. Like women, men with eating disorders struggle with difficulty expressing emotions, anxiety, depression, control issues, and shame. In recent decades, dieting has become more acceptable in men, and pressure from the media for men to attain the “ideal” body has increased as well. It's difficult for these men to seek treatment once an eating disorder is identified; a common reason is that there are relatively few inpatient treatment programs available, the majority of which do not treat males. It is also common for males to avoid treatment because their disordered eating behaviors serve certain athletic goals, such as maintaining a weight class in wrestling. Social stereotypes of masculinity may also deter men from seeking therapy; it may not feel acceptable to ask for help.

Eating Disorders in Children

In today's society we are now seeing more children under the age of twelve developing eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa and compulsive are the most common ammong the children, but there are also cases of bulimia being reported. It is estimated that 40% of nine year olds have already felt the need to diet and we are also beginning to see four and five year olds expressing the need to diet.
Children that are raised in a dysfunctional family have a higher risk of developing an eating disorder. In a home where physical or sexual abuse is taking place, the child may turn to a eating disorder to gain a sence of control. If they cant control their body when the abuse is taking place, they can control their food intake or their weight.
Children are at risk for developing an eating disorder if the parents are also worrying about their appearance or their weight. If the are constantly dieting and showing their dislikes towards their own bodies, the child will receive the message that appearance is very important. In some families the parents mistake baby fat for actual fat and try to force a diet on them.

Gays, Lesbians and Heterosexuals

Investigators had the hypothesis that gay men and heterosexual women are dissatisfied with their bodies and vulnerable to eating disorders because of a shared emphasis on physical attractiveness and thinness that is based on a desire to attract and please men. Although men place priority on physical attractiveness in seeking a potential partner, women place greater emphasis on other factors, such as personality, status, power, and income. Therefore, lesbians and heterosexual men are less concerned with their own physical attractiveness and, consequently, less dissatisfied with their bodies and less vulnerable to eating disorders. Several instruments measuring body satisfaction, the importance of physical attractivness, and symptoms of eating disorders were administered to 250 college students. The sample included 53 lesbians, 59 gay men, 62 heterosexual women, and 63 heterosexual men; there results of the experiement supported there hypothesis.

Psychology and Eating Disorders

In studies, neuroscientists discovered a variety of brain activity across a spectrum of eating behaviors-from extreme over eating to food deprivation. This variation in neurological response influences both the development of an eating disorder and the way in which we respond to a weight loss program.

Scientists believe that the brains of people who have an eating disorder are wired differently.

Eating disorders appear to run in the family and be genetically passed down. Anorexia is eight times more common in people who have relatives with the disorder, and some doctors believe that genetic factors are the root cause of many cases of eating disorders. Twins had a tendency to share specific eating disorders. Regions on chromosome 10 have been linked to bulimia as well as obesity.
Psychological factors that can contribute to eating disorders include low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life, depression, anxiety, anger, or loneliness. Interpersonal Factors include troubled family and personal relationships, difficulty expressing emotions and feelings, a history of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight or a history of physical or sexual abuse. Social factors that can contribute include cultural pressures that glorify "thinness" and place value on obtaining the "perfect body".

Eating Disorders in Celebrities
Several celebrities have opened up about their struggles with anorexia, bulimia and addiction to diet pills — and many have denied ever having any kind of problem despite their scary skinny appearance

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Lindsay Lohan in 2006. “I was sick, and I was scared too,” she told Vanity Fair, as she opened up for the first time about her bulimia. “I had people sit me down and say, ‘You’re going to die if you don’t take of yourself.’”
Mary-Kate Olsen checked into a facility to deal with an eating disorder in 2004, after showing off a shocking skin and bones figure