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Anorexia And Bulimia Nervosa

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"When she was fourteen, a modeling agency said that her face was too fat.
It was a death sentence." (Toronto Sun, 1994)
Sheena Carpenter died in November 1993. She was found on the kitchen
floor of her apartment by her mother. She was twenty-two years old. . . and
weighed only fifty pounds. Sheena was just one of the alarming numbers of young
women who become obsessed with the shape and size of their bodies, and suffer
harmful, or in this case, fatal effects from eating disorders. At any given time,
almost one out of every two women is on some sort of a diet, and this statistic
is apparently reflected the revenues of the diet industry, currently a $33
billion a year industry. It should be noted that this estimate does not include
profits generated by exercise or workout programs, gyms, health clubs, or
cosmetic surgery.
A recent national survey in the US reveled that the majority of women,
when asked what would make them happiest, choose thinness over all other choices,
even such thing as job promotion, romance, prestige and power. In fact, more
women feared becoming fat, then feared dying. These statistics revel an alarming
social problem that is reaching epic proportions.
Although the topic of eating disorders has gained a larger audience
within the last decade, the number of cases of eating disorders continues to
rise at a resounding rate. Today many scientists are looking into possible
causes for the onset of an eating disorder. The most prevalent and influencing
factor is the media and society's view. They act as a controlling presence for
susceptible individuals. ' The socioculture pressure on today's adolescent and
young women to be thin and attractive also play an important role in the
development of eating disorders. Thinness in today's society is associated with
self-control, attractiveness, intelligence, happiness , wealth and success. The
media, fashion, and the diet industry exploit this myth by bombarding us with
products and services designed to push us towards losing weight. As a result, it
is not surprising to find that adolescents who are undergoing uncontrollable
body changes and the onset of new emotional and sexual drives seek dieting in
order to enhance their sense of self-control and acceptance by others.'
Recently it has been discovered that a possible cause for eating
disorders is due to an defective hormone. That hormone serotonin, said to
activate in response to food, is still a mystery and even though it has some
value as a blood clotting factor, but its functions have yet to be totally
understood. At the current speed of progress however, it has been said that we
should expect definite information as to the cause of an eating disorder in
about a decade. Following soon after will be a better form of treatment to help
all who have become effected by this dreadful disorder.
Both Anorexia and Bulimia have effects and differences on the
body that causes the body to take drastic measures to sustain the life of the
individual. (for the sake of brevity and to avoid redundancy the abbreviation ED
will be used in pace of eating disorder)
The lack of any digested food to become a useful ingredient to the body
has detrimental effects to the body as a whole. With each disorder, Anorexia and
Bulimia Nervosa, you will see how each contributes to this problem.
A variety of changes in thought and perception accompany Anorexia
Nervosa. Notable behavioral changes, however, center around food. The
individual with anorexia often divides her foods into 'good' and 'bad'
categories. Good foods are hypocaloric which includes fruits and vegetables,
while bad foods are hypercaloric, such as carbohydrates and sweets. The
hypocaloric foods are eaten while hypercaloric foods are avoided. Mealtimes are
usually skipped or small amounts of foods may be eaten, leading to low daily
calorie intake levels. To an anorexic, every act of eating may be governed by
rules such as cutting the food into small pieces, taking hours to eat, or
hoarding food. This person also becomes obsessed with exercise in yet another
attempt to lose weight. Physically, the disorder causes the body to slowly
deteriorate. Obvious signs to look for are excessive weight loss in a short
period of time and continuing dieting of a bone thin person. The body, in its
amazing capabilities, begins to protect itself by shutting down non-life
sustaining processes. The heart rate and blood pressure slow, very fine hairs
called lanugo grow on the body to prevent loss of body heat, and the skin
becomes dry and yellow. The master gland, the thyroid, slows, which in turn
slows development. Amenorrhea begins, stopping the menstrual cycle in women. Due
to nutrient restriction and electrolyte imbalance, the heart and kidneys become
severely damaged and the brain may even shrink causing drastic personality
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by frequent binge eating, which is
followed by some form of compensative behavior, whether it be self-induced
vomiting, laxatives, or compulsive exercise. Unlike anorexics who are usually in
a state of self denial, bulimics are fully aware of their illness and
consciously try to hide it from others. This deception allows the bulimic to
carry on for many years without anyone ever knowing. However, the hunger
sensation is overwhelmingly strong and the individual gives in, devouring large
amounts of food each time. Then guilt and compensatory behaviors follow, such
as vomiting or laxative use. Because bulimics only lose the food they've just
eaten, they do not drastically lose weight, but fluctuate instead. The body
still tries to preserve life and discontinues non-life sustaining processes as
well. Many experience signs common to an anorexic such as obsessive exercise,
which could led to heavy involvement in sports. Loss of menstrual periods, and
feeling fat are also common ...

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