0 21 January 2015

What are eating disorders?

Distorted body image and obsession with the “ideal” figure can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as eating disorders. Millions of people in the United States are affected by serious and sometimes life-threatening eating disorders, and the vast majority of those affected are adolescent and young adult women. The two most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is the deliberate and prolonged fasting (starvation) driven by a fear of gaining weight. Sufferers are usually extremely thin but believe they are overweight. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a destructive pattern of overeating followed by behaviors such as purging (throwing up), fasting, or excessive exercise.  

What are the medical consequences?

Anorexia nervosa can lead to muscle weakness, anemia, hair loss, osteoporosis, low blood pressure, and drop in internal body temperature. For girls and women, anorexia can cause absence of menstruation, a condition known as amenorrhea. Studies have pointed out that people with anorexia are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness. The most common complications that lead to death are heart attack and electrolyte and fluid imbalances. For people with Bulimia, the binging (uncontrolled eating) and purging cycle usually r