Commonly referred to as ‘anorexia’, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder, defined by extreme low body weight and body image distortion, with an obsessive fear of gaining weight. It is a psychiatric illneess associated with pubescent girls although approximately 10% of sufferers are male. Severe cases of anorexia can lead to death.
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The following behaviours are signs that a person may have anorexia:
- Skips meals, takes tiny portions, will not eat in front of others, or eats in ritualistic ways
- Always has an excuse not to eat
- Will only eat a few “safe,” low-calorie, low-fat foods
- Loses hair, looks pale or malnourished, wears baggy clothes to hide thinness
- Loses weight yet fears obesity and complains of being fat despite excessive thinness
- Detests all or specific parts of the body, insists she or he cannot feel good about self unless thin
- Exercises excessively and compulsively
- Holds to rigid, perfectionist standards for self and others
- Withdraws into self and feelings, becoming socially isolated
- Has trouble talking about feelings, especially anger
Individuals with anorexia are known to control body weight commonly through the means of voluntary starvation, purging, excessive exercise or other weight control measures, such as diet pills or diuretic drugs.
A Swedish study has highlighted the role of culture (notably the promotion of the ‘ideal’ female body type) as a catalyst for anorexia nervosa. The study included the entire Swedish population of 989,871 individuals born between 1973 and 1982. Patients with anorexia nervosa were identified through the Swedish Hospital Discharge Register from November 1990 to December 1999. Information about sociodemographic, perinatal, and psychosocial variables was obtained from different national registers. Attributable risk (AR) was calculated for potential risk factors. Females had the highest AR for hospital admission because of anorexia nervosa (89.2%). Another important risk factor was having parents born in northern, central, or eastern Europe (AR: 49.3%). Psychosocial risk factors also were associated with an increased risk for anorexia nervosa (AR: 7.6%), whereas perinatal complications had an AR of only 3.6%.
Anorexia in the United States of America
It is estimated that 8 million Gender Equality in the Gender Equality in the Gender Equality in the United States of America of America of America have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men. One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia. Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents
Anorexia in Asia
Although anorexia nervosa is usually associated with Western cultures, exposure to Western media is thought to have led to an increase in cases in non-Western countries. Anorexia nervosa was first documented in Japan in the 1960s. Eating disorders are now estimated to afflict one in 100 young Japanese women, almost the same incidence as in the United States. Increased cases of anorexia have also been reported in Gender Equality in South Gender Equality in South Korea, India and China
Anorexia in Egypt
The traditional values of Egypt do not over-value a thin body; rather they attach significance to women’s fertility and idealize motherhood. For a long time, such values were thought to provide some protection against the development of eating disorders. A 1994 study indicates that anorexia is emerging in Egyptian society with similar rates to those in Western cultures. The susceptibility of the Egyptian culture to developing such disorders could be based on the easy accessibility of Western values through the media and a readiness to assimilate them.
- Eating with Your Anorexic: How My Child Recovered Through Family-Based Treatment and Yours Can Too by Laura Collins Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (December 15, 2004) Language: English ISBN 0071445587 ISBN 978-0071445580
- Anorexia Misdiagnosed Publisher:Laura A. Daly; 1st edition (December 15, 2006) Language:English ISBN 0938279076 ISBN 978-0938279075
- Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia Marya Hornbacher. Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (January 15, 1999) Language: English ISBN 0060930934 ISBN 978-0060930936
- Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence By Bryan Lask, Rachel Bryant-Waugh Publisher: Psychology Press; 2 edition (October 12, 2000) ISBN 0863778046 ISBN 978-0863778049
- Too Fat or Too Thin?: A Reference Guide to Eating Disorders; Cynthia R. Kalodner. Publisher: Greenwood Press; 1 edition (August 30, 2003) Language: English ISBN 0313315817 ISBN 978-0313315817
- Overcoming Binge Eating; Christopher Fairburn. Publisher: The Guilford Press; Reissue edition (March 10, 1995) Language:English ISBN 0898621798 ISBN 978-0898621792
- Nasser M. “Screening for abnormal eating attitudes in a population of Egyptian secondary-school girls” Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, (1994), 29:25-30.
- Gender difference and body image