Its not as simple as losing weight

Anorexia, or anorexia nervosa as it’s known by doctors and the like, is a serious medical condition which has 6000 newly diagnosed cases every year in Britain. Anorexics see themselves as fat due, despite being dangerously underweight, and they’re so afraid of gaining weight that they don’t eat. Although many anorexics start off by cutting out meals, many move onto to taking laxatives or exercising excessively to become unnaturally thin.

Research from The Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that 1/150 girls and 1/1000 boys are starving themselves, sometimes to death, but why? There is often a trigger cause which leads to this destructive behaviour, with the death of someone close and the separation of parents being the top two. These are tied up with the feeling that their own lives are no longer under their control. Losing weight is something that the individual can be in control of.

Some scientists believe that certain people are predisposed to become anorexic (i.e. it’s in your DNA). Others believe that the disease is ‘learnt’ from the media’s obsession with size-zero models, fad diets and über -slim celebrities. This constant bombardment gives susceptible adolescents the impression that the slimmer you are the happier, more attractive and successful you become.

Although you may think anorexics are just losing fat, the reality is much more serious. The body needs energy to function properly and if you don’t eat then your body has to use up its fat stores. Once those have been depleted, your body starts to ‘eat’ your muscles. Also, due to the lack of body fat, you develop an intolerance for the cold and a fine hair may start to grow on your body. Your immune system has weakened considerably because you haven’t been getting the right vitamins and nutrients, meaning the slightest of illnesses could have serious consequences and you could be in danger of suffering heart failure.

The following are some of the symptoms of anorexia and related eating disorders. This is not to be held as gospel; if someone displays some of these signs, they are not necessarily anorexic but this is a useful guide.

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Dieting
  • Distorted body image
  • Excessive exercising
  • Frequent weighing
  • Feeling sick after eating a normal amount of food
  • Periods stopping
  • Feeling cold when surrounding temperature is normal

If you believe that you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder please visit; www.b-eat.co.uk for advice or further information.

In honour of World Eating Disorder Action Day.

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