Recent years, eating disorders become a social and medical problem affected the global society. The main causes of the problem are ideal body image popularized by glossy magazines and obesity problems which force many people to diet. Society by far, has not shown a mature attitude towards people suffering from this illness. Instead of compassion, people in general react to them with subtle rejection that sufferers badly fear to receive. The first part of the paper will address the main types of eating disorders and consequences caused by eating disorders; the second part will discuss possible methods of treatment and prevention; conclusion will summarize the main findings and research results. Thesis Eating disorders is both a social and psychological problem which needs social interventions on the state level.
The most common eating disorders among modern people are Anorexia, Bulimia, Compulsive Overeating and Obesity (Claude-Pierre 3). While it is virtually impossible to go through life without encountering a medical problem, individuals with Eating Disorders see themselves as a lone sufferer and would seldom come out in the open much less seek professional help. Bulimia is a common eating disorder characterized as epidemic.
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“Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by a highly secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging. Bulimia includes eating large amounts of food (more than most people would eat in a meal) in a short period, then getting rid of the food and calories through vomiting, excessive exercise, or laxative abuse (Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center).
Anorexia is now well researched disease. At first, food and eating seemed to be the issue. Anorexia's whole being is focused on avoiding eating, and he will do anything, anything at all to get his way. This includes not eating at all — self-starvation — for as long as possible, pretending to eat and hiding food when it seems unavoidable to eat with others, lying about having eaten earlier or not being hungry, wild binges — which may even include eating frozen food direct from the freezer compartment — when the rigid control slips and Bulimia overpowers Anorexia and can not resist eating everything in sight, then getting rid of it. Without proper nourishment, Anorexia's body starts to take energy away from less important functions, such as growing strong nails and hair, to concentrate on just keeping warm enough and alive! After the initial stage of compulsive and exhausting activity, to try to conserve energy and to keep warm Anorexia's body will want to spend a lot of time lying (Claude-Pierre 38).
The results of eating disorders to the individuals are devastating, which knows no boundaries in color, cultural background or sexual orientation. It is often observed that those who need treatment most are more apt to enlist last or do not seek help at all. But there is grave danger and hazard to a person’s health that possess this problem. Gone are the specific weight ranges that stereotypes people who can be suffering from Anorexia who were thought to be ultra-thin since they could also be found to be overweight while those with Compulsive Eating can be slightly underweight. The variations can range from extremely underweight to extremely overweight to anywhere in between. Outward appearances are not indicators of the severity of the physical and emotional health problem that they may be in (Harrison 163).
Bulimia may also find the compulsion to binge so strong that his previous moral code is overwhelmed. A person may steal money from family and friends to buy more food; a person may shoplift. If friends discover what has happened — as they may well do Anorexia's infrequent social outings may stop altogether. “Compulsive Overeating is characterized by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling full. While there is no purging, there may be fasts or repetitive diet attempts” (Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center n.d.).If family suspect or prove that Anorexia has been taking money from wallets and purses — and they may well do — trust is destroyed and may be difficult to restore. Anorexia's and Bulimia's family feel caught in the middle of a web of deceit of nightmarish quality, with no end in sight and no idea what to do (Shelley 41).
Family members frequently complain loudly to the management rather than risk Anorexia's wrath, which is spectacular over trivial things — no tomato sauce left two days after stocking the cupboards? And the management — usually a distressed and despairing, frequently exhausted, mother — tries to work out what to do. Anorexia's temper will grow and flourish over ever-smaller incidents anyway, whatever you do. If families try to ignore and tiptoe around the problems, Bulimia gets the message that by making life unpleasant enough a person can “get away” with things and can take ever greater control over the lives of everyone around a person does not make his happier — the guilt about what he is doing probably increases the misery and contributes to outbursts (Treasure43).
It has become increasingly clear that body fat distribution, as well as total body fat, contributes to the health consequences of obesity. Abdominal obesity is seen most commonly in men, in those who are heavier, and also appears to be associated with high dietary fat intake, low exercise, and smoking; there also appears to be a genetic contribution to body fat distribution. Overweight individuals are exposed to significant prejudice and discrimination. Children as young as age 6 rate overweight children as lazy, stupid, dirty, and prefer not to play with overweight peers. These prejudices exist throughout society, extending even to physicians who prefer not to treat overweight patients. Given these findings of prejudice and discrimination against the obese, it might be expected that the obese would have higher rates of depression and psychological disturbances. There are also positive effects of weight loss on psychosocial variables. Behavioral weight control programs that assess mood before, during, and after participation in treatment show reductions in depression and anxiety over the course of the program. Unfortunately, many individuals who try to lose weight will experience initial success followed subsequently by weight regain. Thus, researchers have been trying to determine whether such yo-yo dieting, or weight cycling, has negative physiological or psychological effects (Treasure 76). The most recent prospective studies on this topic suggest that there are no negative effects of such voluntary weight cycles. When overweight individuals lose weight and then s return to baseline, their lipids and blood pressure also return to baseline, but do not overshoot baseline. Weight cycling also does not negatively affect resting metabolic rate, the ease/difficulty of future weight loss efforts, or body fat distribution. Fewer studies have assessed psychological parameters, but these too do not appear to differ consistently between weight cyclers and nonweight cyclers (Polivy and Herman 187).
Eating disorders are regulated by the amount of energy taken in through eating and the amount of energy expended. When these two are in balance, weight is maintained. Energy imbalance will result in weight change. When there is an increase in eating or a decrease in expenditure, weight gain occurs; with decreased eating and/or increased expenditure, weight loss occurs. Eating behavior is a complex phenomenon, controlled by many physiological processes, learning history, and socio-cultural factors. One of the strongest determinants of food intake is preference; people eat what they like (Treasure 54). Preferences may to some extent be innately programmed. Humans innately prefer sweet taste and may also exhibit an innate preference for meat, for dietary fat, or both. Familiarity is also an important determinant of food preference, and it is possible to change food preferences by increasing familiarity with a previously novel food item (Treasure 45). Thus learning history is an important determinant of food preferences. Whether it is necessary to change food preferences in adults in order to change intake or how best to do so, is unclear. Eating disorders have long been a focus of health psychologists because behavior plays such an important role in the etiology and treatment of this highly prevalent disorder, which is associated with poor health outcomes, including heart disease and diabetes (Treasure 82).
In sum, modern people develop eating disorders because of diverse social and personal factors. Such types of disorders as Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Overeating can cause severe health damage including low blood pressure and hypotension. The need for state interventions is explained by the act that poor self-control might develop into eating disorder habits later in life, and therefore certain new programs and policies that address this concern should be passed to correct or prevent this problem to escalate. Given the goal of improving eating habits of the American public as a whole, it is interesting to consider whether by making healthier foods more available and less expensive it would be possible to increase consumption of these foods and consequently preferences, rather than first trying to influence food preferences. Tailored health education materials that provide the optimal characteristics of intensive and interactive interventions, but are relatively inexpensive and easily disseminable, hold promise for application to dietary interventions. Adoption of healthy diets is a central tenet of health promotion for women. The combination of individual, family-based, and environmental interventions to promote decreased dietary fat, and increased fruit, vegetable, and fiber consumption, has shown promise. Personal motivators and stage of readiness to adopt dietary changes, as well as the socio-cultural contexts of minority and low income women must be considered in the design of dietary interventions. Recent advances in health communication strategies that enable tailoring message content to the needs of specific groups may help to expand the reach and appropriateness of dietary interventions to important demographic subgroups.