The Truth About Eating Disorders
As you may know, February is the month of Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
So, while the media continues to target body conscious young females, it’s important to keep in mind that eating disorders are an illness which have severe physical and emotional side effects. In our attempt to raise awareness we’re looking at the facts surrounding the illness that affects so many girls and women globally.
- It is estimated that 1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder of some kind, whether it is anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder, or somewhere in between.
- 10% of female college students suffer with eating disorders or disordered eating, of which, over half struggle with bulimia nervosa.
- 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males. And those are just the ones that have actually admitted they struggle with an eating disorder, as it has a reputation to be a disease that only effects women. In fact, there are thousands of males that struggle in secrecy every day.
- 80% of 13 year old girls have attempted to lose weight.
- A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of people with anorexia die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover.
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.
- Outpatient treatment for eating disorders costs about $8,000 per week, if not more.
- An eating disorder can effect each organ system to the point of failure. Cardiovascular system is stressed and heart rate can slow to the point of stopping.
- The heart muscle itself can also shrink, causing huge danger due to the same large volume of blood now pumping through a smaller heart.
- Electrolytes are thrown out of balance from continued bingeing and purging behaviors, which can effect cell function throughout the entire body.
- Tears in the espohagus can require surgery and rotting of the teeth cause many patients to have many or all of their teeth removed and replaced with expensive vaneers.
- Hair loss, bone degradation, loss of intestinal function, and damage to the reproductive system are all possible with an eating disorder.
- It is possible that you will not be able to have children, or that you may require a colostomy bag (a bag that is permanently attached to your lower abdomen to catch feces being moved out of your GI tract) because your intestines shut down long enough to require them to be surgically removed.
- And remember, and eating disorder is not something “to try” for weight loss. An eating disorder is a psychiatric illness, right next to schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder and many others. The human body actually responds to restriction of food (which includes not eating, or eating and then purging) by storing nutrients. Yes, it holds on to the nutrients you eat rather than using it for fuel and burning it. The weight loss you see is due to the body living off of fuel from not only fat cells, but muscle cells, tissue and organ cells. This damage can be irreversible.
If you think you might be on a slippery slope towards developing an eating disorder or are worried about your eating habits, visit Understanding Nutrition.com where you can give yourself a quick check and get the help you may need.
[Photo courtesy of younglivin.org]