Anorexia Essay, Research Paper
The purpose for this paper is to inform myself more on eating disorders since its becoming such an important issue in our society.
Dieting is currently at epidemic proportions. According to Hobbs and Johnson?s(1996) study, by the age of 18, more than fifty percent of girls perceive themselves as being too fat, despite having a normal weight. Anorexia nervosa is estimated to occur in 0.2 to 1.3 percent of the population, with annual incidence of five to ten cases per 100,000 population. Prevalence and incidence rates of both anorexia nervosa and bulimia tend to be higher in certain populations, such as college sororities. In this type of environment, a high priority is placed on thinness, therefor dieting is a common practice among colleagues. Anorexia nervosa is much more common in women than in men, although approximately five to ten percent of patients with anorexia are men.
Broccolo-Philbin(1996) notes that dieting can be dangerous. If extreme dieting goes unnoticed and uncorrected, then it could lead to serious health problems. Several anorexic patients end up in the hospital to be treated for their disorder.
?We are in a society that suggests we must be perfect in everything,? says Meehan(1996,p.1), founder and president of the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated disorders. She says we feel that we must somehow live up to these unrealistic standards. In turn, if we meet this ideal, then we feel bad about are looks. This can lead up to a behaviour that harms rather then helps. One girl who suffered from anorexia said,? I really didn?t feel like I was good at anything. Even though I made straight A?s, it seemed like I was never in control. Food was the only thing in my life that I could control.? Meehan(1996,p.2) explains that this attitude is common among people who suffer from eating disorders. ? Anorexics realize the power food has over people,?she says. ?A person who starves themselves think they are special because they can do something no one else can do.? Power is a major issue with anorexics. In fact, studies suggest there are certain risk factors that make some teens more susceptible to developing an eating disorder.
In addition to being unhappy with their bodies and themselves, many have a strong need for approval from their parents or peers. Some may be depressed and this can be a major factor. For women the overwhelming social and cultural pressure to be slim can produce such ferocious fear of fatness that the result is anorexia. For men, says Andersen(1994,p.61) such pressures are a significant cause of anorexia primarily in a subset that includes models, actors, gymnasts, wrestlers and jockeys. Although for several males, nonprofessional sport training can lead down the road to an eating disorder. Men can also develop eating disorders in connection with what behaviour experts call ?obligatory running? and other endurance sports. In a world of deprivation chic, pain and hunger take a back seat to miles-per-day and body fat percentage numbers.
According to Hobbs(1996) and Johnson(1996), dieting and weight loss are becoming much more common among males of all ages. Things like television, motion pictures and the print media portray a slender body as a way to obtain power, control and success. Americans are exposed to the ideas off healthy eating and thinness at an early age, and by early childhood they are learning the power they wield over their bodies through weight loss.
Jenish(1990) notes that doctors who have studied the disorders say that there can be a wide spread of causes, including a childhood disturbed by alcoholism, drug abuse or sexual abuse within a family, or an individual?s own obsession with perfection. Kaufman(1990,p.52) says,?People want to be pencil thin. Models are suppose to be able to put their legs together and still have a space between their knees.? Excruciating pressure, combined with youthfulness, led to superstar model Scharre?s brush with bulimia. She said that after being in New York to work as a model at the age of four-teen, she began gaining weight. This caused several problems to her career because she couldn?t fit in to many of her modelling clothes. As a consequence she began to stop eating and use herbal laxatives to lose weight and became very sick.
Hobbs and Johnson(1996)note that anorexia nervosa is common in industrialized societies such as Great Britain, Sweden and Canada, where food is easily obtained and a high priority is placed on slenderness. Anorexia seldom occurs in developing countries.
According to Hobbs & Johnson(1996) Obsessive-compulsive behaviour are common among patients with anorexia. Their main concerns in life are from food to body shape to daily activities. Anorexic patients often conceal or hoard food, or cut up food into tiny pieces, and rearrange it on their plates to give the appearance that they have eaten. They always tend to eat low calories foods in specific quantities, for example ten green beans or one table spoon of ketchup. Sometimes they go as far as counting the amount of calories in chewing gum, medicines and glue on postage stamps. These patients are obsessed with burning calories, which leads to incessant exercising. They may vigorously attempt to burn the few calories that they have consumed. Daily tasks such as bathing, homework and occupation are also often highly ritualized. Any deviation from the normal routine is a source of intense anxiety for patients with anorexia.
According to Broccolo-Philbin(1996), she says that some physical symptoms to anorexic patients include skin dryness or rashes; facial swelling; swelling of the ankles, feet, stomach; and rotting teeth. One study discovered that eating disorders caused major calcium loss even in those who were given calcium supplements. Calcium is essential to developing strong bones and teeth. Another study determined that undereating can harm the body?s ability to fight infection.
Information in the DSM IV(1995) show that the anoretic
person?s diet is usually limited, and food is dealt with in a ritualistic manner. They also say that a patient may count peas on the dinner plate and only eat one third of them. Excessive exercise is also typically part of the behaviour pattern. There is a distorted perception of the body size or shape . A lot of anorexic patients feel overweight all over and others feel that only certain parts of their body need to be thinner. Patients weigh, measure, and view themselves obsessively. Self-worth may depend on the ability to avoid food.
SUMMARY of LITERATURE REVIEWED
All these studies above have shown me how dangerous to your health and even your life these eating disorders can be. The percentage of teenagers with diseases like anorexia are a lot higher than I ever thought they would be. These studies indicate that something has to be done because too many young people are suffering from these diseases. They also indicate that there is definitely something wrong in our society that is pushing adolescence to behave like this.
When comparing all my findings I have gathered that they all say basically the same thing which therefor makes them all similar. All my findings show that the cause for eating disorders are mainly due to our environment. They all say that media friends and family play a big part in the causes of eating disorders. Although, the only journals that give alternative causes are those written by Hobbs and Johnson(1996) and Meehan(1996). They say that one of the causes for eating disorders is because it gives the patients a sense of power and control over their body. Furthermore, all the findings show similar signs of human behaviour in anorexic patients. They all indicate that anorexic patients
behave in such a way that they avoid food as much as possible. They will constantly be exercising to burn off as much calories as possible. These journals also show that they eat a minimal amount of calories to avoid gaining fat. Over all, all these articles basically show us the dangers of eating disorders and how these diseases are becoming so popular in our society.
Broccolo-Philbin, Anne: An obsession with being painfully thin. Current Health 2 vol.22, 1996, p.23
DSM-IV: Diagnosing eating disorders: what?s new in the
DSM-IV. Patient care vol.29, 1995, p.93
Hobbs, Wendy & Johnson, cynda: Anorexia nervosa: an overview. American Family Physician, vol.54, 1996, p.1273
Loose Change, Protect Yourself Magazine, January 1990.
The Truth About Cats & Dogs, People Magazine, March 1996.
Starved For Love, Chatelaine, February 1997.