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Understanding Anorexia Nervosa Essay

1294 words - 5 pages

Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, with more than 10% of those that suffer from it will die.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is categorized by severe food restriction, excessive exercise and body dysmorphia, which leads those that suffer from it to believe that they are overweight. Anorexia nervosa is commonly misunderstood by the general public. Research has disproved many of the previous thoughts about anorexia nervosa. According to the scientific research anorexia nervosa has a genetic factor, is not just a disorder of teenage girls, and that recovery is not simply gaining weight.
Movies, television shows and magazines portray rail thin woman as the ideal image of beauty. And the demographic that is viewed as the most impressible is that of pre-teen and teenage girls. This appears to be how popular thought has connected these two things, in order to blame popular culture for anorexia nervosa. However what is not commonly known is that anorexia nervosa far predates the current view of female beauty. Anorexia nervosa symptoms were first described by Sir Richard Morton in 1689 (Kaplan). Then in 1874, a physician named William Gull named the disorder anorexia nervosa (Till). While doctors and researchers agree that society can influence those that suffer from the disorder it is not the reason for the disorder.
In pursuit of more effective treatment and prevention in anorexia nervosa, researchers have been looking into genetic risk factors for anorexia nervosa. The researchers have used twin studies to learn more about the possible genetic link. The largest twin study on the disorder has shown that the disorder is heritable and that there are warning signs decades before the disorder presents itself (Johnson).
The study included 31,406 twins between the ages of 15 years old and 38 years that filled out a questionnaire that assessed seven potential risk factors for anorexia nervosa (body mass index, gastric problems, excessive exercise, perceived life stress, neuroticism and extraversion (Johnson)) The subjects were then interviewed between 25 years to 29 years later when the average age of the subjects was 54.6 years old. At that time the researchers found that 1.2% of the females and 0.29% of the males had developed anorexia nervosa. With this data the researchers were able to determine that genetics accounted for 56% of the cases of anorexia nervosa (Johnson). The risk factor questionnaire was not predictive of the disorder.
Another study that looked at genetics and their involvement in developing anorexia nervosa has made promising research into which gene is the cause. According to their research using 128 sister pairs they discovered that 5-HTTLPR polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene is a risk factor for having anorexia nervosa (Estivill et al.).
Anorexia nervosa is often thought to be a disorder that only affects teenage girls. This is not the case. The National...

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