According to the World Health Organization, within the last two years the number of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) among young men age 12 through 16 has increased twofold. Sixty-seven percent of them suffer from severe undernutrition and apparent psychosis. One in one hundred teenagers makes a suicide attempt because they are unhappy with their appearance.
Anorexia and bulimia are eating disorders.
People suffering from anorexia are concerned with being overweight and limit their food consumption. Those suffering from bulimia cannot control their eating behavior, are prone to overeating and after indulging cleanse their bodies by vomiting and taking laxatives. Both diseases are life threatening and require psychiatric treatment.
Approximately 12 in 100,000 people suffer from anorexia and 24 in 100,000 suffer from bulimia. The number of those suffering from anorexia is relatively stable, while the number of those with bulimia is progressively increasing. According to some data, the number of those suffering from bulimia is two to four times larger than those with anorexia. This is due to the fact that bulimia can only be formally diagnosed when a person is overeating.
Anorexia is considered to be a female disease. 90 percent of anorexia patients are young women age 12 through 24. The remaining 10 percent include older women and men . One percent of teenage girls and 0.1 percent of teenage boys suffer from the disease.
When teenagers become excessively concerned with their weight and later stick to diets, do not start praising them for a healthy lifestyle. It has been proven that strict diets increase risk of anorexia by a factor of 18.
Medical professionals name the following reasons of the disease: early puberty, temperament, being teased because of excessive weight, low self esteem, and disadaptive family education. Genetics is also important. The risk factor of those who have relatives suffering from the disorder is 12 times larger.
At the culmination of the eating disorder the entire body feels the consequences of limited nutrition. A patient loses her hair, her teeth deteriorate, skin becomes wrinkly and develops spots, hands and feet feel cold, metabolism slows down, and menstrual disorder progresses. Eating disorders are psychological disorders that often lead to cachexia and suicide.
Recently doctors from the clinic of the University of Barcelona, Spain, concluded that lately boys who have distorted bodily image develop a desire to lose weight sticking to strict diets and starvation.
The doctors asked 30 teenagers age 11 through 18 suffering from anorexia to assess their body size, including the size of their chest, shoulders, waist, thighs and ankles. They asked 420 teenagers who do not suffer from anorexia the same questions. It turned out that boys obsessed with losing weight often overestimated the size of their bodies. They are more often unhappy with their looks despite being skinny, they feel guilty while eating and are terrified of a thought of having fat on their bodies.
People prone to anorexia often do not recognize that they are sick. Parents should pay attention to their children’s eating behavior. Medical specialists recommend paying attention to the following symptoms:
- Denial of the fact that they are trying to keep themselves at minimum weight, no matter how low
- Constant feeling of being fat, especially in particular areas
- Eating while standing, breaking food into small pieces
- Sleeping disorders
- Isolation from the society
- Panic fear of gaining weight
American doctors offer a program that may help solve this problem. They believe that leading designers and nutritionists should meet with teenagers in schools and tell them about the disease and its consequences for a growing body.
On average, anorexia treatment requires 2 to 2.5 months. In some cases in-patient treatment may last up to a year. Repeated hospitalization is not a rare case . Sometimes treatment can be repeated as much as three and four times.
Often anorexia is treated for years, because it is a psychological disorder similar to alcohol and drug addiction.