Eating Disorders: Who Gets Them?

A young woman speaking in a support group for eating disorders Eating disorders may seem like a problem focused on food, but they are more than about that. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are complex conditions that can have serious repercussions on physical and mental health. Sufferers may take their worries about weight loss to the extremes, causing them to develop abnormal eating habits that can threaten their health.

According to research, about 90% of eating disorder cases involve adolescent and young women. This doesn’t mean, however, that such problems only affect the females. Treatment centers for eating disorders note that teenage boys and older men also develop an eating disorder. Statistics suggest that about 10% of those with anorexia and bulimia are men.

People at Risk

Anyone can develop eating disorders, with many of the sufferers having low self-esteem, body image dissatisfaction, and feelings of hopelessness. There are also certain traits associated with each disorder. Those with anorexia, for instance, are a perfectionist and want to please others. People with bulimia, on the other hand, have issues with anxiety and impulse control.

Situations and Emotions

Different situations can also cause eating disorders, especially to vulnerable individuals. Friends and loved ones may give negative comments about weight and those participating in activities that focus on thinness can precipitate abnormal eating behaviors and eating disorders. Negative emotions or situations like abuse can also trigger such conditions.

Abnormal Habits and Lifestyle

Engaging in abnormal or poor eating habits can continue to become ingrained in one person’s habit. Some may refuse to eat or exercise vigorously to achieve what they believe is the ideal weight. Others, meanwhile, may eat excessively and then purge their bodies using laxatives, vomiting, and other methods. Problematic behaviors can evolve into a serious case of eating disorder.

The thing is, many develop disorders without loved ones noticing or suspecting about the problem. This makes it important to learn more about the signs and symptoms, or the difference between normal dieting and anorexia nervosa. Seeking treatment should follow, involving a general physician, nutritionist, and psychologist.