Some see it as a disorder developed in the pursuit of vanity, others see it as a way for young girls to seek attention – but what exactly is Anorexia Nervosa? We look beyond the social stigma to find out the real facts.
Individuals suffering from Anorexia are often characterised by their obsessive fear of gaining weight and distorted body image. The average calorie intake of sufferers is between 600-800 per day so when you compare this to the recommended 2000 for women and 2200 for men and you can see just how dangerous the disorder can be. Shockingly, the average age of sufferers at the onset of the disease has decreased from 13-17 to 9-12 in recent years with cases in women being 10 times more common than in men.
Anorexia is not a choice, but for some people it starts out that way. The ‘Pro-Anas’ are a group of people who advocate the principles of anorexia and promote it as a lifestyle choice. These individuals often gather in online communities to discuss tips and tricks on losing weight faster and tend to use forums and blogs to track their weight loss and daily calorie intake. These are just some of the people who are guilty for making the disorder look glamorous and fashionable, mainly to young girls. Many of the people involved in such communities tend to mimic the behavior of an anorexic for a short period of time before returning to their normal habits, but some find themselves unable to stop as a result of their self-destructive behavior and become sufferers of the disorder.
Physiologists have discovered that many of the sufferers are, in fact, perfectionists. They are the people who constantly strive for the best grades, the best jobs, the best house – people who want to be successful in every possible way. Perhaps this is the result of pressure from their peers or maybe it’s the media’s fault – there are many different reasons why people may feel the need to be perfect. Sufferers of anorexia often start of by creating daily goals for themselves, this may include eating less calories than the previous day or running one more mile than usual. There is nothing unusual about those two goals mentioned, in fact many people trying to lose weight in a healthy way may set themselves similar targets, it’s only when a person becomes obsessed with ‘beating’ their own records on a daily basis that it starts to affect their health.
Anorexia Nervosa consumes the sufferer’s every thought. Losing weight becomes the most important thing to them and the effects of eating so little and exercising so often are truly devastating on both their body and mind. It’s easy for non-sufferers to underestimate how difficult it is to recover from an eating disorder but it can take some people years to begin to develop a healthy relationship with food again – and tragically, some people never do.
Anorexia can cause constipation, osteoporosis, tooth loss, brain atrophy, leukopenia, hyponatraemia and even cardiac arrest. 214 deaths were attributed to various eating disorders in the USA in 2004 alone. It is more than just a ‘rich white girl’s disease’ . It effects people of all races, colours, religions, genders and ages.
Never underestimate the seriousness of Anorexia Nervousa.
If you would like more information or help to recover, please visit: