The Skinny on Anorexia

Because of mass media’s rising campaign on beauty products and weight-loss products, people have been given the idea that they need to be appearance-conscious to get noticed. And with a lot of skinny celebrities and models in the media spotlight, it gives people a misconception that being skinny is synonymous to being beautiful. And because of this misconception that a lot of women become obsessed in losing weight, by any means necessary, be it naturally or not.

An alarming emergence in eating disorders
Eating disorders have become increasingly prevalent in western countries because of a drastic change in the feminine body ideal towards thinness. An estimated five to ten percent of girls and women, an approximated five to ten million people, and a million boys and men suffer from eating disorders. Among these eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and other dietary conditions. An estimated fifteen percent of young women adopt unhealthy eating habits and behaviours about food.

Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia is the second most common eating disorder. Anorexia and bulimia nervosa are common in terms of having an intense fear of becoming fat or even just to be perceived as fat. However anorexia differs in the sense that anorexic people starve themselves to lose weight, on the other hand people with bulimia eat to their hearts content and then purge by forcing themselves to vomit.

Anorexia and other eating disorders usually start during early adolescence. People with anorexia nervosa often do a good job at hiding their eating disorder until the side effects have become prominent. And anorexic people also have a tendency to deny that something is wrong with them, that they’re already finished eating, or that they’re not hungry at the moment. They also keep insisting that they need to lose more weight.

Anorexia and other eating disorders may have stemmed from a misunderstanding of a wide range of social influences that dictate for women to be skinny and imitate supermodel looks. Or sometimes it may be self-inflicted as a way of refusing to enter puberty. Some experts relate having low self-esteem, loneliness, a history of abuse, peer pressure, inferiority complex, and perfectionism as triggers of such conditions.

Side effects

Side effects are mainly classified into psychological, social and physical. Physical side effects may come as a result from lack of nutrition from very little food intake, this may put serious strain on a lot of the body’s major organs. Anorexia may also cause psychological side effects, changing the way a person thinks, giving anorexics a distorted view on things.

Physical side effects:
Fatigue and loss of energy
Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Dizziness due to low blood pressure
Fine hair growth on body (lanugo hair)
Hair loss
Pins and needles (parathesia due to changes in the peripheral changes in the nervous system)
Brittle nails and fragile bones due to low calcium
Increased vulnerability to osteoporosis
Anaemia and pale skin due to low iron levels
Easy bruising
Susceptibility to cold due to loss of insulation
Edema (tissue swelling from water) due to electrolyte imbalances
Cessation of menstruation
Strain on most of the bodies organs
Thyroid dysfunction
Irregularity in the secretion of growth hormone
Potential kidney failure
Urinary tract infections
Chronic indigestion
Potential liver failure

Psychological side effects:

Low self esteem and loss of confidence
Feelings of being ineffective and powerless
Fear of losing control
Mood swings
Anxiety and depression
Feelings of being worthless

Now that you understand what anorexia is all about, it will be easier to look out for tell-tale signs of the disease. Of course the best way to prevent this condition is to educate your kids early of proper nutrition and showing them a healthy attitude towards food. Of course, the best way to educate is to lead by being an example to your children. After all, if your kids see you eating healthy, what are the chances that they would develop an unhealthy eating habit?