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The Causes and Effects of Anorexia

When I think of anorexia, a few things come to mind. I think of really bad episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 and Baywatch in which females, ususally teenagers, starve themselves and take diet pills. The eating problem is always resolved within the timespan of one 30 minute episode. From the research I’ve done thus far on anorexia, I now know that this is a very unrealistic representation of what is actually a very serious disease. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, I have done extensive research on the causes and effects of anorexia.

Secondly, I will produce a survey that asks basic questions about anorexia. I will give these to young adults from the ages of 15 to 35. This will serve as my means to find out just how much people of that certain age group know about the potentially deadly disease of anorexia. This research is not only to inform myself about anorexia, but also to inform myself about the knowledge or lack thereof that young people have about the disease. Most people believe that anorexia is mainly a young females’ disease. This is not necessarily true.

In fact, studies within the past few years show that male anorexia is about as widespread as in females. In actuality, 80 percent of the people diagnosed with anorexia over the age of 45 are males(Heywood, 1996). Other misconceptions are that anorexia is only common with younger people and that anorexia is not a real disease at all, just a staple of obsessive teenage girls. Another widespread misconception about the disease of anorexia is that it is a new disease. Actually, doctors say that anorexia has its roots centuries ago.

Through different time periods, people have fasted for a number of reasons, they say. People fasted in Biblical times to pay reverence to God or just to exercise self-discipline. Anorexia has been around almost as long as man. (Deth and Vandereycken, 1990) Basically, anorexia is spread as easily as any other disease. The disease in itself is not contageous, of course; it is spread through society and the media. For example, what is known as the “Barbie doll syndrome” is the main cause of such a mental disease.

People starve themselves so that their bodies will match their fashion role models. One strong example of this is the “waif” look that came into mainstream fashion a few years ago. The “in” style was to like like Kate Moss, and girls would do what they had to do to accomplish this look. Usually, this meant cutting a few meals out of the day. Fashion, music, movies, television, and radio all contribute to the spread of anorexia. (Bruch, 1979) The start of anorexia in a particular patient can be difficult to pinpoint.

It tends to begin during childhood, and it is usually sparked by some sort of change. These changes can be: going away to camp, switching schools, or playing a team sport. Young people are very vulnerable to harsh comments, and they are also likely to dish them out. These harsh comments often carry a lasting impression on the will-be anorexic. True anorexics typically avoid sexual relations because of their severe disliking and disgust for their own bodies. (Bruch, 1979) Another possible cause of anorexia in young people is lack of attention from parents.

People who become anorexic because of lack of parental attention tend to also obsess in other things. They may push themselves to swim extra laps, run extra miles, lift extra weight. These are all often caused by parents. (Bruch, 1979) Anorexia is a serious disease. It plagues millions more people every year, and, despite popular belief, it attacks members of all ages and genders. It can be treated and controlled, but if not treated, it can be fatal. Starvation is not only a mental illness, but also phsical starvation, which kills. Anorexia isn’t exactly what you see on Baywatch.

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