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Just Dying To Look Perfect

Updated on March 28, 2012

Eight Million People

Studies estimate about 8 million people in America are suffering from an eating disorder, and of those 10% are men. Thousands die from them yearly.The causes of eating disorders aren’t fully known. However, it’s clear they’re often associated with other conditions and social situations. There are many types of eating disorders but this article will only deal with the two most common, anorexia and bulimia.

Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders isn’t having a problem with food. Eating disorders are actually symptoms of other underlying problems.

Anorexia is extreme weight loss due to excessive dieting. Anorexics see themselves as fat, no matter how much they weigh. Bulimia is distinguished by a cycle of binge eating followed by purging in an effort to rid the body of unwanted calories.

More Teens And Children

Today, more teens and children under the age of 12 are beginning to become statistics. Even some four and five year olds are expressing a desire to diet. Why are so many young people becoming obsessed with dieting and weight? Is it possibly because the media is constantly exposing them to the “perfect” models in magazines and television? They assume if they don’t look like those people then something must be wrong with them. Society overemphasizes the importance of being thin.

Anorexics may be underweight and still "feel fat" at 85 lbs. Some anorexics on their death bed will show you where they feel they still need to lose weight. And to become even slimmer, will avoid food at all costs. Unfortunately, estimates show 10 to 20% will die from complications related to it. Many women, and an increasing number of men, are motivated by an insatiable desire to be thin and fear of becoming fat.

Low Self Esteem

An anorexic may feel the only control they have in their lives is over food and weight. If they can't control their life circumstances, they can control their weight. Focusing on losing weight is a way to block out negative emotions. It seems easier to diet then to deal with their problems. Most anorexics have low self-esteem issues.

They may feel they don't deserve to eat. Anorexics usually deny they have any problem. Any attempts to help are seen only as a way to make them eat. The largest problem is getting them to they admit they have a problem. Then they can be treated through a combination of psychological, nutritional and medical care.

Signs And Symptoms

How can you tell if someone is anorexic? There are many signs and symptoms. Here are a few to watch for.

Extreme weight loss

Being withdrawn

Over exercising

Making excuses not to eat

Complaints of being too fat

Eating only diet foods

Cutting food into tiny pieces, picking at food

Signs of laxative abuse, diet pills or diuretics

Constantly feeling cold

Weakness and fatigue

Depression, irritability

Frequently checking weight

Bulimia

However, bingeing bulimics are different. One person’s binge may be from 1000 to 10000 calories. For another, a small snack may be a binge. Purging methods are usually vomiting and laxative abuse. Other forms of purging are listed above. Bulimics usually do not feel secure about their own self worth and food becomes a source of comfort. Bulimia is also a way blocking out negative feelings. But, unlike anorexics, bulimics realize they have a problem, thus are more likely to seek help.

Today’s teens are under a lot of pressure to succeed and fit in. Many worry about what their peers think and try to conform to society's unattainable perfect body. They believe being thin, will win them acceptance. Pictures of skinny models in magazines reinforce their belief in order to be accepted, they have to be thin.

Professionals feel the percentage of men with eating disorders may be much higher than once thought. It was once believed this disorder only involved women. Few men seek the help they need for several reasons. Despite showing the same behavior patterns, men are less likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder.

There are few therapy groups and treatment centers specifically designed for men. They may feel very uncomfortable, to be part of a program designed for women. They might also think a treatment facility could turn them down because of their sex. But is it worth dying for?

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