Eating Disorders In America Essay

2037 words - 8 pages

Food. It is essential for survival. Without it, people die. However, oddly enough, many struggle to live without it to accomplish the standards that our culture has created for us. We are taught that being thin is perfection and will lead to a happier life. However, lurking are the health risks that one pays for obtaining the “perfect body”. Still, along with a distorted body image, others struggle with keeping weight down and fall into the diet fads that the world parades. From movies, magazines, and television, the media also sends us messages that being fat is bad and unhealthy while being thin and beautiful is acceptable. The impact of such influences has increased eating disorders in America. These disorders do not discriminate. Anyone regardless of age, sex, race, or background can develop one and without help it can lead to death.
Today, America is plagued with eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Compulsive Eating Disorders. Each has its own characteristics that distinguish the illness yet there are some similarities that they also share. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, as with most mental illnesses, eating disorders are not caused by just one factor but by a combination of behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal and social factors. Shockingly, they also report that in the United States, there are as many as 10 million females and 1 million males that are battling with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Additionally, another 25 million are struggling with binge eating disorders (www.NationalEatingDisorders.org). Typically, psychological factors such as depression and low self-esteem contribute to eating disorders. Another aspect is problems with the family, culture pressures, and biological factors have also increased the likelihood of disorders developing. These disorders are serious, life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s health and must be detected early for immediate treatment.
With Anorexia Nervosa, there is a strong fear of weight gain and a preoccupation with body image. Those diagnosed may show a resistance in maintaining body weight or denial of their illness. Additionally, anorexics may deny their hunger, have eating rituals such as excessive chewing and arranging food on a plate, and seek privacy when they are eating. For women, they go through immediate body changes from abnormal to no menstruation periods and develop lanugo all over their bodies. Characteristics of an anorexic individual also consist of extreme exercise patterns, loosely worn clothing, and maintain very private lives. Socially, to avoid criticism or concern from others, they may distant themselves from friends and activities they once enjoyed. Instead, their primary concerns revolve around weight loss, calorie intake, and dieting. In regards to health, many will have an abnormal slow heart rate and low blood pressure, some...

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