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Eating Disorders And Society Essay Research Paper

Eating Disorders And Society Essay, Research Paper EATING DISORDERS AND SOCIETY Eating disorders are complex illnesses that affect adolescents with increasing frequency. They rank as the third most common chronic illness in adolescent females, with an incidence of up to 5%, a rate that has increased dramatically over the past three decades.

Eating Disorders And Society Essay, Research Paper

EATING DISORDERS AND SOCIETY

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that affect adolescents with increasing frequency. They rank as the third most common chronic illness in adolescent females, with an incidence of up to 5%, a rate that has increased dramatically over the past three decades. Two major subgroups of the disorders are recognized: a restrictive form, in which food intake is severely limited (anorexia nervosa), and a bulimic form, in which binge eating episodes are followed by attempts to minimize the effects of overeating via vomiting, catharsis, exercise or fasting (bulimia nervosa). These eating disorders are complex illnesses, which in 90% of the cases affect young women in their teen years and early 20?s. This has become a serious issue in our society, which has been brought on by society itself. In this paper, I will examine the effects of these eating disorders, and the role that society has played, and continues to play in perpetuating their existence while making inadequate attempts to slow down its progress.

Anorexia Nervosa is a state of starvation and emaciation, which can be accomplished by severe dieting or by purging. People with anorexia nervosa become emaciated to the point of actual starvation, losing at least 15% to as much as 60% of normal body weight for age and height. Patients normally reduce weight by severely restricting their diets. Vomiting and abuse of laxatives, diuretics or exercise my also be part of this misplaced attempt to control weight. Anorexia nervosa occurs in ?% to 1% of girl?s aged 13 to 17, peaking at age 15. If not treated, anorexia can lead to serious physical problems such as malnutrition, damage to the heart and kidneys, and even death.

Bulimia nervosa, which is more common than anorexia, describes a cycle of bingeing and purging. A person with bulimia nervosa eats large amounts of high-calorie food in a short period of time, then uses vomiting and/or laxatives to purge the food before it can be absorbed by the body. Bingeing and purging are recurring events that typically alternate with extreme dieting. Weight usually stays within a fairly normal range, though there may be large fluctuations. The eating binges average about 1,000 calories but can be as high as 20,000 calories or as low as 100. Patients diagnosed with bulimia average about 14 episodes per week. Dentists may be the first to suspect bulimia because stomach acid from frequent, induced vomiting may damage tooth enamel and gums. Other health problems may include dehydration, the depletion of important minerals, and damage to vital organs. Bulimia nervosa is more common than anorexia, increasing at a greater rate over the past five years. One study of high school students reported that 2.7% of girls and 1.4% of boys engaged in bulimic behavior. College age students are at even higher risks. Estimates of its presence among young women range from about 3% to 10%. Some studies report that 80% of female college students have binged at one time; young people who occasionally force vomiting after eating too much, however, are not considered bulimic, and most of the time this occasional unhealthy behavior does not continue beyond youth.

It is not surprising that eating disorders are on the increase because of the value society places on being thin. Women are given the message at a very young age that in order to be happy and successful, they must be thin. Every time you walk into a store you are surrounded by the images of emaciated models that appear on the front cover of all fashion magazines. Thousands of teenage girls are starving themselves to attain what the fashion industry considers to be the ideal figure. The average model weighs 23% less than the average woman and since maintaining a weight that is 15% below your expected body weight fits the criteria for anorexia, medically speaking most models would be considered anorexic. Recently, some modeling agencies have begun to put some emphasis on the larger ?queen? size look in its new fashions. These, however, are still small in number and have yet to carry the impact necessary to change the perception of the ideal image. Teenagers need to realize that society?s ideal body image is not achievable. Striving to attain the unattainable will just end up increasing their feelings of inadequacy.

Television also plays a big part in presenting a picture that to be accepted and fit in means to be thin. A young audience will watch such shows as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Baywatch, and believe that they need to look as thin as the actresses on these shows do. Whether it is a daytime soap opera or prime time drama, television portrays the handsome, beautiful, slim and shapely as those who achieve success and tranquillity. Television consistently airs diet and exercise commercials depicting ?before? pictures of an unhappy and unattractive person, with the ?after? picture of a thin, happy and self-assured image. Richard Simmons strikes at every emotion of this belief with his telling pictures, poignant interviews, and exuberant exercise programs. In response to television, the demand by consumers for low calorie and reduced fat goods is booming and sales on these products are very substantial. Society is brainwashing young people into believing that being thin is important and necessary.

The diet and fashion industries are not totally responsible for society?s obsession with thinness. We are the ones keeping them in business. We buy into the idea that we can attain the ?ideal? body image. We allow ourselves to believe the lies being thrown at us constantly. We buy their magazines, watch the television shows and movies, purchase the shapely dolls, diet books and exercise products, and much more, propelling the concept of ?thin is beautiful?. We are throwing away our hard earned money trying to live up to the standards that society has set for us. Be prepared to spend lots of money on your quest for the perfect body and be prepared to never find it, because there isn?t one.

Schools should take an active role in preventing eating disorders by educating the students on the dangers of eating disorders and helping to teach them that in order to prosper in life, their weight does not matter. Young people need to be encouraged and accepted and taught that you do not have to be thin to succeed in the career of your choice. Teachers and school counselors should also be made aware of the signs to look for. If eating disorders are caught early, and the person is willing to accept the help that is available to them, the chances of recovery are greater.

The family environment can also play a big role in a teenager developing an eating disorder. If they are in a family where emotional, physical or sexual abuse is taking place, or they are a weight conscious family, the teen may develop an eating disorder to gain a sense of control. This control is used to block out painful feelings and emotions, or as a way to punish themselves, especially if they assume responsibility for the abuse. Being a teenager is not easy and there are many pressures that they face daily. Eating disorders can be very much about control, so if they feel like everything around them is out of control, they may develop one to gain a sense of control. It is important for families to raise the teenager to be proud of who they are and not place any importance on their appearance. We need to remind them that people come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to teach them to accept everyone for who they are. Parents need to also teach their children the value of healthy eating and not send the message that being thin is important. Many children, under the age of 10, are becoming obsessed with dieting and their bodies. They are afraid of becoming fat. They don?t just learn this from the media; they also learn this from their parents. If their mothers are constantly dieting and expressing their desire to be thin, these young children will start to believe they also need to be thin. We need to encourage and support our children, especially teenagers. They need to feel good about themselves and their accomplishments, they need your approval and they need to know that you are proud of them. If a child is raised to love and accept who they are and what they look like, they will be less likely to strive to fit into society?s unattainable standards. Assure them that they can come to you with problems and that you will listen to them and not judge them or put them down. They should be given the motivation to do their best but not to be perfect. They need to be encouraged to be themselves and to be proud of who they are, so that they will not give into the pressures from their peers to try and fit in. If they are happy with themselves and love who they are, they will be less likely to try and attain society?s unattainable ?ideal? body image.

It?s unfortunate, but in today?s society, people have forgotten that it?s what?s inside a person that counts, not what?s on the outside. We need to start loving and accepting each other for who we are not what we look like. Next time you decide that you are going to start another diet because you feel you are too fat, stop; sign up for a self-esteem class instead. That would be money well spent. If we learn to love and accept ourselves, we will also begin to love our bodies, no matter what size we are. This is what we need to teach our children, to be proud of whom they are.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Barbara, ?Eating Disorders Increasing Among Minority,? Family Practice News, September 15, 1999.

Bosch, Xavier, ?Eating Disorders may Warrant Compulsory Hospital Admission,? The Lancet, March 20, 1999

British Medical Journal, ?Spain Tackles Eating Disorders,? April 10, 1999.

Chemist & Druggist, ?Late-onset Anorexia Linked to Laxative and Diuretic Abuse,? July 17, 1999.

Mothering, ?Who?s the Fairest of Them All? Me!,? September 1998.

Nathan, Paul, ?Starve No More,? Publishers Weekly, April 29, 1996.

Newsweek, ?Fat-Phobia in the Fijis: TV-Thin is In,? May 31, 1999.

Olson, Todd, ?Images of Women: Should We All Be Like Kate?? McCall?s Magazine, February 3, 1999.

Salladay, Susan A., ?Food Fight,? Nursing, June 1999.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, ?Biography Memoir,? February 3, 1999.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, ?Nutrition,? December 15, 1999.

EATING DISORDERS AND SOCIETY

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that affect adolescents with increasing frequency. They rank as the third most common chronic illness in adolescent females, with an incidence of up to 5%, a rate that has increased dramatically over the past three decades. Two major subgroups of the disorders are recognized: a restrictive form, in which food intake is severely limited (anorexia nervosa), and a bulimic form, in which binge eating episodes are followed by attempts to minimize the effects of overeating via vomiting, catharsis, exercise or fasting (bulimia nervosa). These eating disorders are complex illnesses, which in 90% of the cases affect young women in their teen years and early 20?s. This has become a serious issue in our society, which has been brought on by society itself. In this paper, I will examine the effects of these eating disorders, and the role that society has played, and continues to play in perpetuating their existence while making inadequate attempts to slow down its progress.

Anorexia Nervosa is a state of starvation and emaciation, which can be accomplished by severe dieting or by purging. People with anorexia nervosa become emaciated to the point of actual starvation, losing at least 15% to as much as 60% of normal body weight for age and height. Patients normally reduce weight by severely restricting their diets. Vomiting and abuse of laxatives, diuretics or exercise my also be part of this misplaced attempt to control weight. Anorexia nervosa occurs in ?% to 1% of girl?s aged 13 to 17, peaking at age 15. If not treated, anorexia can lead to serious physical problems such as malnutrition, damage to the heart and kidneys, and even death.

Bulimia nervosa, which is more common than anorexia, describes a cycle of bingeing and purging. A person with bulimia nervosa eats large amounts of high-calorie food in a short period of time, then uses vomiting and/or laxatives to purge the food before it can be absorbed by the body. Bingeing and purging are recurring events that typically alternate with extreme dieting. Weight usually stays within a fairly normal range, though there may be large fluctuations. The eating binges average about 1,000 calories but can be as high as 20,000 calories or as low as 100. Patients diagnosed with bulimia average about 14 episodes per week. Dentists may be the first to suspect bulimia because stomach acid from frequent, induced vomiting may damage tooth enamel and gums. Other health problems may include dehydration, the depletion of important minerals, and damage to vital organs. Bulimia nervosa is more common than anorexia, increasing at a greater rate over the past five years. One study of high school students reported that 2.7% of girls and 1.4% of boys engaged in bulimic behavior. College age students are at even higher risks. Estimates of its presence among young women range from about 3% to 10%. Some studies report that 80% of female college students have binged at one time; young people who occasionally force vomiting after eating too much, however, are not considered bulimic, and most of the time this occasional unhealthy behavior does not continue beyond youth.

It is not surprising that eating disorders are on the increase because of the value society places on being thin. Women are given the message at a very young age that in order to be happy and successful, they must be thin. Every time you walk into a store you are surrounded by the images of emaciated models that appear on the front cover of all fashion magazines. Thousands of teenage girls are starving themselves to attain what the fashion industry considers to be the ideal figure. The average model weighs 23% less than the average woman and since maintaining a weight that is 15% below your expected body weight fits the criteria for anorexia, medically speaking most models would be considered anorexic. Recently, some modeling agencies have begun to put some emphasis on the larger ?queen? size look in its new fashions. These, however, are still small in number and have yet to carry the impact necessary to change the perception of the ideal image. Teenagers need to realize that society?s ideal body image is not achievable. Striving to attain the unattainable will just end up increasing their feelings of inadequacy.

Television also plays a big part in presenting a picture that to be accepted and fit in means to be thin. A young audience will watch such shows as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Baywatch, and believe that they need to look as thin as the actresses on these shows do. Whether it is a daytime soap opera or prime time drama, television portrays the handsome, beautiful, slim and shapely as those who achieve success and tranquillity. Television consistently airs diet and exercise commercials depicting ?before? pictures of an unhappy and unattractive person, with the ?after? picture of a thin, happy and self-assured image. Richard Simmons strikes at every emotion of this belief with his telling pictures, poignant interviews, and exuberant exercise programs. In response to television, the demand by consumers for low calorie and reduced fat goods is booming and sales on these products are very substantial. Society is brainwashing young people into believing that being thin is important and necessary.

The diet and fashion industries are not totally responsible for society?s obsession with thinness. We are the ones keeping them in business. We buy into the idea that we can attain the ?ideal? body image. We allow ourselves to believe the lies being thrown at us constantly. We buy their magazines, watch the television shows and movies, purchase the shapely dolls, diet books and exercise products, and much more, propelling the concept of ?thin is beautiful?. We are throwing away our hard earned money trying to live up to the standards that society has set for us. Be prepared to spend lots of money on your quest for the perfect body and be prepared to never find it, because there isn?t one.

Schools should take an active role in preventing eating disorders by educating the students on the dangers of eating disorders and helping to teach them that in order to prosper in life, their weight does not matter. Young people need to be encouraged and accepted and taught that you do not have to be thin to succeed in the career of your choice. Teachers and school counselors should also be made aware of the signs to look for. If eating disorders are caught early, and the person is willing to accept the help that is available to them, the chances of recovery are greater.

The family environment can also play a big role in a teenager developing an eating disorder. If they are in a family where emotional, physical or sexual abuse is taking place, or they are a weight conscious family, the teen may develop an eating disorder to gain a sense of control. This control is used to block out painful feelings and emotions, or as a way to punish themselves, especially if they assume responsibility for the abuse. Being a teenager is not easy and there are many pressures that they face daily. Eating disorders can be very much about control, so if they feel like everything around them is out of control, they may develop one to gain a sense of control. It is important for families to raise the teenager to be proud of who they are and not place any importance on their appearance. We need to remind them that people come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to teach them to accept everyone for who they are. Parents need to also teach their children the value of healthy eating and not send the message that being thin is important. Many children, under the age of 10, are becoming obsessed with dieting and their bodies. They are afraid of becoming fat. They don?t just learn this from the media; they also learn this from their parents. If their mothers are constantly dieting and expressing their desire to be thin, these young children will start to believe they also need to be thin. We need to encourage and support our children, especially teenagers. They need to feel good about themselves and their accomplishments, they need your approval and they need to know that you are proud of them. If a child is raised to love and accept who they are and what they look like, they will be less likely to strive to fit into society?s unattainable standards. Assure them that they can come to you with problems and that you will listen to them and not judge them or put them down. They should be given the motivation to do their best but not to be perfect. They need to be encouraged to be themselves and to be proud of who they are, so that they will not give into the pressures from their peers to try and fit in. If they are happy with themselves and love who they are, they will be less likely to try and attain society?s unattainable ?ideal? body image.

It?s unfortunate, but in today?s society, people have forgotten that it?s what?s inside a person that counts, not what?s on the outside. We need to start loving and accepting each other for who we are not what we look like. Next time you decide that you are going to start another diet because you feel you are too fat, stop; sign up for a self-esteem class instead. That would be money well spent. If we learn to love and accept ourselves, we will also begin to love our bodies, no matter what size we are. This is what we need to teach our children, to be proud of whom they are.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Barbara, ?Eating Disorders Increasing Among Minority,? Family Practice News, September 15, 1999.

Bosch, Xavier, ?Eating Disorders may Warrant Compulsory Hospital Admission,? The Lancet, March 20, 1999

British Medical Journal, ?Spain Tackles Eating Disorders,? April 10, 1999.

Chemist & Druggist, ?Late-onset Anorexia Linked to Laxative and Diuretic Abuse,? July 17, 1999.

Mothering, ?Who?s the Fairest of Them All? Me!,? September 1998.

Nathan, Paul, ?Starve No More,? Publishers Weekly, April 29, 1996.

Newsweek, ?Fat-Phobia in the Fijis: TV-Thin is In,? May 31, 1999.

Olson, Todd, ?Images of Women: Should We All Be Like Kate?? McCall?s Magazine, February 3, 1999.

Salladay, Susan A., ?Food Fight,? Nursing, June 1999.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, ?Biography Memoir,? February 3, 1999.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, ?Nutrition,? December 15, 1999.

EATING DISORDERS AND SOCIETY

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that affect adolescents with increasing frequency. They rank as the third most common chronic illness in adolescent females, with an incidence of up to 5%, a rate that has increased dramatically over the past three decades. Two major subgroups of the disorders are recognized: a restrictive form, in which food intake is severely limited (anorexia nervosa), and a bulimic form, in which binge eating episodes are followed by attempts to minimize the effects of overeating via vomiting, catharsis, exercise or fasting (bulimia nervosa). These eating disorders are complex illnesses, which in 90% of the cases affect young women in their teen years and early 20?s. This has become a serious issue in our society, which has been brought on by society itself. In this paper, I will examine the effects of these eating disorders, and the role that society has played, and continues to play in perpetuating their existence while making inadequate attempts to slow down its progress.

Anorexia Nervosa is a state of starvation and emaciation, which can be accomplished by severe dieting or by purging. People with anorexia nervosa become emaciated to the point of actual starvation, losing at least 15% to as much as 60% of normal body weight for age and height. Patients normally reduce weight by severely restricting their diets. Vomiting and abuse of laxatives, diuretics or exercise my also be part of this misplaced attempt to control weight. Anorexia nervosa occurs in ?% to 1% of girl?s aged 13 to 17, peaking at age 15. If not treated, anorexia can lead to serious physical problems such as malnutrition, damage to the heart and kidneys, and even death.

Bulimia nervosa, which is more common than anorexia, describes a cycle of bingeing and purging. A person with bulimia nervosa eats large amounts of high-calorie food in a short period of time, then uses vomiting and/or laxatives to purge the food before it can be absorbed by the body. Bingeing and purging are recurring events that typically alternate with extreme dieting. Weight usually stays within a fairly normal range, though there may be large fluctuations. The eating binges average about 1,000 calories but can be as high as 20,000 calories or as low as 100. Patients diagnosed with bulimia average about 14 episodes per week. Dentists may be the first to suspect bulimia because stomach acid from frequent, induced vomiting may damage tooth enamel and gums. Other health problems may include dehydration, the depletion of important minerals, and damage to vital organs. Bulimia nervosa is more common than anorexia, increasing at a greater rate over the past five years. One study of high school students reported that 2.7% of girls and 1.4% of boys engaged in bulimic behavior. College age students are at even higher risks. Estimates of its presence among young women range from about 3% to 10%. Some studies report that 80% of female college students have binged at one time; young people who occasionally force vomiting after eating too much, however, are not considered bulimic, and most of the time this occasional unhealthy behavior does not continue beyond youth.

It is not surprising that eating disorders are on the increase because of the value society places on being thin. Women are given the message at a very young age that in order to be happy and successful, they must be thin. Every time you walk into a store you are surrounded by the images of emaciated models that appear on the front cover of all fashion magazines. Thousands of teenage girls are starving themselves to attain what the fashion industry considers to be the ideal figure. The average model weighs 23% less than the average woman and since maintaining a weight that is 15% below your expected body weight fits the criteria for anorexia, medically speaking most models would be considered anorexic. Recently, some modeling agencies have begun to put some emphasis on the larger ?queen? size look in its new fashions. These, however, are still small in number and have yet to carry the impact necessary to change the perception of the ideal image. Teenagers need to realize that society?s ideal body image is not achievable. Striving to attain the unattainable will just end up increasing their feelings of inadequacy.

Television also plays a big part in presenting a picture that to be accepted and fit in means to be thin. A young audience will watch such shows as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Baywatch, and believe that they need to look as thin as the actresses on these shows do. Whether it is a daytime soap opera or prime time drama, television portrays the handsome, beautiful, slim and shapely as those who achieve success and tranquillity. Television consistently airs diet and exercise commercials depicting ?before? pictures of an unhappy and unattractive person, with the ?after? picture of a thin, happy and self-assured image. Richard Simmons strikes at every emotion of this belief with his telling pictures, poignant interviews, and exuberant exercise programs. In response to television, the demand by consumers for low calorie and reduced fat goods is booming and sales on these products are very substantial. Society is brainwashing young people into believing that being thin is important and necessary.

The diet and fashion industries are not totally responsible for society?s obsession with thinness. We are the ones keeping them in business. We buy into the idea that we can attain the ?ideal? body image. We allow ourselves to believe the lies being thrown at us constantly. We buy their magazines, watch the television shows and movies, purchase the shapely dolls, diet books and exercise products, and much more, propelling the concept of ?thin is beautiful?. We are throwing away our hard earned money trying to live up to the standards that society has set for us. Be prepared to spend lots of money on your quest for the perfect body and be prepared to never find it, because there isn?t one.

Schools should take an active role in preventing eating disorders by educating the students on the dangers of eating disorders and helping to teach them that in order to prosper in life, their weight does not matter. Young people need to be encouraged and accepted and taught that you do not have to be thin to succeed in the career of your choice. Teachers and school counselors should also be made aware of the signs to look for. If eating disorders are caught early, and the person is willing to accept the help that is available to them, the chances of recovery are greater.

The family environment can also play a big role in a teenager developing an eating disorder. If they are in a family where emotional, physical or sexual abuse is taking place, or they are a weight conscious family, the teen may develop an eating disorder to gain a sense of control. This control is used to block out painful feelings and emotions, or as a way to punish themselves, especially if they assume responsibility for the abuse. Being a teenager is not easy and there are many pressures that they face daily. Eating disorders can be very much about control, so if they feel like everything around them is out of control, they may develop one to gain a sense of control. It is important for families to raise the teenager to be proud of who they are and not place any importance on their appearance. We need to remind them that people come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to teach them to accept everyone for who they are. Parents need to also teach their children the value of healthy eating and not send the message that being thin is important. Many children, under the age of 10, are becoming obsessed with dieting and their bodies. They are afraid of becoming fat. They don?t just learn this from the media; they also learn this from their parents. If their mothers are constantly dieting and expressing their desire to be thin, these young children will start to believe they also need to be thin. We need to encourage and support our children, especially teenagers. They need to feel good about themselves and their accomplishments, they need your approval and they need to know that you are proud of them. If a child is raised to love and accept who they are and what they look like, they will be less likely to strive to fit into society?s unattainable standards. Assure them that they can come to you with problems and that you will listen to them and not judge them or put them down. They should be given the motivation to do their best but not to be perfect. They need to be encouraged to be themselves and to be proud of who they are, so that they will not give into the pressures from their peers to try and fit in. If they are happy with themselves and love who they are, they will be less likely to try and attain society?s unattainable ?ideal? body image.

It?s unfortunate, but in today?s society, people have forgotten that it?s what?s inside a person that counts, not what?s on the outside. We need to start loving and accepting each other for who we are not what we look like. Next time you decide that you are going to start another diet because you feel you are too fat, stop; sign up for a self-esteem class instead. That would be money well spent. If we learn to love and accept ourselves, we will also begin to love our bodies, no matter what size we are. This is what we need to teach our children, to be proud of whom they are.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Barbara, ?Eating Disorders Increasing Among Minority,? Family Practice News, September 15, 1999.

Bosch, Xavier, ?Eating Disorders may Warrant Compulsory Hospital Admission,? The Lancet, March 20, 1999

British Medical Journal, ?Spain Tackles Eating Disorders,? April 10, 1999.

Chemist & Druggist, ?Late-onset Anorexia Linked to Laxative and Diuretic Abuse,? July 17, 1999.

Mothering, ?Who?s the Fairest of Them All? Me!,? September 1998.

Nathan, Paul, ?Starve No More,? Publishers Weekly, April 29, 1996.

Newsweek, ?Fat-Phobia in the Fijis: TV-Thin is In,? May 31, 1999.

Olson, Todd, ?Images of Women: Should We All Be Like Kate?? McCall?s Magazine, February 3, 1999.

Salladay, Susan A., ?Food Fight,? Nursing, June 1999.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, ?Biography Memoir,? February 3, 1999.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, ?Nutrition,? December 15, 1999.

EATING DISORDERS AND SOCIETY

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that affect adolescents with increasing frequency. They rank as the third most common chronic illness in adolescent females, with an incidence of up to 5%, a rate that has increased dramatically over the past three decades. Two major subgroups of the disorders are recognized: a restrictive form, in which food intake is severely limited (anorexia nervosa), and a bulimic form, in which binge eating episodes are followed by attempts to minimize the effects of overeating via vomiting, catharsis, exercise or fasting (bulimia nervosa). These eating disorders are complex illnesses, which in 90% of the cases affect young women in their teen years and early 20?s. This has become a serious issue in our society, which has been brought on by society itself. In this paper, I will examine the effects of these eating disorders, and the role that society has played, and continues to play in perpetuating their existence while making inadequate attempts to slow down its progress.

Anorexia Nervosa is a state of starvation and emaciation, which can be accomplished by severe dieting or by purging. People with anorexia nervosa become emaciated to the point of actual starvation, losing at least 15% to as much as 60% of normal body weight for age and height. Patients normally reduce weight by severely restricting their diets. Vomiting and abuse of laxatives, diuretics or exercise my also be part of this misplaced attempt to control weight. Anorexia nervosa occurs in ?% to 1% of girl?s aged 13 to 17, peaking at age 15. If not treated, anorexia can lead to serious physical problems such as malnutrition, damage to the heart and kidneys, and even death.

Bulimia nervosa, which is more common than anorexia, describes a cycle of bingeing and purging. A person with bulimia nervosa eats large amounts of high-calorie food in a short period of time, then uses vomiting and/or laxatives to purge the food before it can be absorbed by the body. Bingeing and purging are recurring events that typically alternate with extreme dieting. Weight usually stays within a fairly normal range, though there may be large fluctuations. The eating binges average about 1,000 calories but can be as high as 20,000 calories or as low as 100. Patients diagnosed with bulimia average about 14 episodes per week. Dentists may be the first to suspect bulimia because stomach acid from frequent, induced vomiting may damage tooth enamel and gums. Other health problems may include dehydration, the depletion of important minerals, and damage to vital organs. Bulimia nervosa is more common than anorexia, increasing at a greater rate over the past five years. One study of high school students reported that 2.7% of girls and 1.4% of boys engaged in bulimic behavior. College age students are at even higher risks. Estimates of its presence among young women range from about 3% to 10%. Some studies report that 80% of female college students have binged at one time; young people who occasionally force vomiting after eating too much, however, are not considered bulimic, and most of the time this occasional unhealthy behavior does not continue beyond youth.

It is not surprising that eating disorders are on the increase because of the value society places on being thin. Women are given the message at a very young age that in order to be happy and successful, they must be thin. Every time you walk into a store you are surrounded by the images of emaciated models that appear on the front cover of all fashion magazines. Thousands of teenage girls are starving themselves to attain what the fashion industry considers to be the ideal figure. The average model weighs 23% less than the average woman and since maintaining a weight that is 15% below your expected body weight fits the criteria for anorexia, medically speaking most models would be considered anorexic. Recently, some modeling agencies have begun to put some emphasis on the larger ?queen? size look in its new fashions. These, however, are still small in number and have yet to carry the impact necessary to change the perception of the ideal image. Teenagers need to realize that society?s ideal body image is not achievable. Striving to attain the unattainable will just end up increasing their feelings of inadequacy.

Television also plays a big part in presenting a picture that to be accepted and fit in means to be thin. A young audience will watch such shows as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Baywatch, and believe that they need to look as thin as the actresses on these shows do. Whether it is a daytime soap opera or prime time drama, television portrays the handsome, beautiful, slim and shapely as those who achieve success and tranquillity. Television consistently airs diet and exercise commercials depicting ?before? pictures of an unhappy and unattractive person, with the ?after? picture of a thin, happy and self-assured image. Richard Simmons strikes at every emotion of this belief with his telling pictures, poignant interviews, and exuberant exercise programs. In response to television, the demand by consumers for low calorie and reduced fat goods is booming and sales on these products are very substantial. Society is brainwashing young people into believing that being thin is important and necessary.

The diet and fashion industries are not totally responsible for society?s obsession with thinness. We are the ones keeping them in business. We buy into the idea that we can attain the ?ideal? body image. We allow ourselves to believe the lies being thrown at us constantly. We buy their magazines, watch the television shows and movies, purchase the shapely dolls, diet books and exercise products, and much more, propelling the concept of ?thin is beautiful?. We are throwing away our hard earned money trying to live up to the standards that society has set for us. Be prepared to spend lots of money on your quest for the perfect body and be prepared to never find it, because there isn?t one.

Schools should take an active role in preventing eating disorders by educating the students on the dangers of eating disorders and helping to teach them that in order to prosper in life, their weight does not matter. Young people need to be encouraged and accepted and taught that you do not have to be thin to succeed in the career of your choice. Teachers and school counselors should also be made aware of the signs to look for. If eating disorders are caught early, and the person is willing to accept the help that is available to them, the chances of recovery are greater.

The family environment can also play a big role in a teenager developing an eating disorder. If they are in a family where emotional, physical or sexual abuse is taking place, or they are a weight conscious family, the teen may develop an eating disorder to gain a sense of control. This control is used to block out painful feelings and emotions, or as a way to punish themselves, especially if they assume responsibility for the abuse. Being a teenager is not easy and there are many pressures that they face daily. Eating disorders can be very much about control, so if they feel like everything around them is out of control, they may develop one to gain a sense of control. It is important for families to raise the teenager to be proud of who they are and not place any importance on their appearance. We need to remind them that people come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to teach them to accept everyone for who they are. Parents need to also teach their children the value of healthy eating and not send the message that being thin is important. Many children, under the age of 10, are becoming obsessed with dieting and their bodies. They are afraid of becoming fat. They don?t just learn this from the media; they also learn this from their parents. If their mothers are constantly dieting and expressing their desire to be thin, these young children will start to believe they also need to be thin. We need to encourage and support our children, especially teenagers. They need to feel good about themselves and their accomplishments, they need your approval and they need to know that you are proud of them. If a child is raised to love and accept who they are and what they look like, they will be less likely to strive to fit into society?s unattainable standards. Assure them that they can come to you with problems and that you will listen to them and not judge them or put them down. They should be given the motivation to do their best but not to be perfect. They need to be encouraged to be themselves and to be proud of who they are, so that they will not give into the pressures from their peers to try and fit in. If they are happy with themselves and love who they are, they will be less likely to try and attain society?s unattainable ?ideal? body image.

It?s unfortunate, but in today?s society, people have forgotten that it?s what?s inside a person that counts, not what?s on the outside. We need to start loving and accepting each other for who we are not what we look like. Next time you decide that you are going to start another diet because you feel you are too fat, stop; sign up for a self-esteem class instead. That would be money well spent. If we learn to love and accept ourselves, we will also begin to love our bodies, no matter what size we are. This is what we need to teach our children, to be proud of whom they are.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Barbara, ?Eating Disorders Increasing Among Minority,? Family Practice News, September 15, 1999.

Bosch, Xavier, ?Eating Disorders may Warrant Compulsory Hospital Admission,? The Lancet, March 20, 1999

British Medical Journal, ?Spain Tackles Eating Disorders,? April 10, 1999.

Chemist & Druggist, ?Late-onset Anorexia Linked to Laxative and Diuretic Abuse,? July 17, 1999.

Mothering, ?Who?s the Fairest of Them All? Me!,? September 1998.

Nathan, Paul, ?Starve No More,? Publishers Weekly, April 29, 1996.

Newsweek, ?Fat-Phobia in the Fijis: TV-Thin is In,? May 31, 1999.

Olson, Todd, ?Images of Women: Should We All Be Like Kate?? McCall?s Magazine, February 3, 1999.

Salladay, Susan A., ?Food Fight,? Nursing, June 1999.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, ?Biography Memoir,? February 3, 1999.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, ?Nutrition,? December 15, 1999.

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