Anorexia, an eating disorder has now been linked to lack of a neurotransmitter that is responsible for stimulation of appetite. The study has for the first time proved that overcoming those hunger pangs and avoiding food isn't just about extraordinary will power alone.
The neurotransmitter is known to be neuropeptide Y (NPY). The oversupply of NPY makes it hard for obese people to lose weight. In anorexia, there is a lack of NPY that disrupts the balance of the NPY system, making it easier to starve. It is unclear if reduced NPY levels cause anorexia or if it is a manifestation of the disease itself.
Anorexia is currently seen in over 4200 people in NSW, of which females constitute a significant proportion. The increasing number of children who are affected by the disorder has led to much concern among health professionals. The increased pressure and lack of proper available support could be in a way responsible for this trend. This trend is nothing more than a replication of the situation in Britain and Canada.
The disease can have a profound impact on the growth and development of the child. More specifically, it can affect frontal lobe brain in development. It is this part of the brain that controls organization and judgment. Developmental delay of the frontal lobe can affect the functionality of an individual, later in life.
The common misconception that thin-is-beautiful can lead anorexic tendencies. In children however, food restriction is more likely to be caused due to anxiety or internal problems, more specifically in young girls. It is less likely to occur in boys, as they tend to vent their distress in some way or the other.
Dieting is regarded to be a major risk factor for development of anorexia. Spending quality time with children under distress, an improved understanding between parents and children, the practice of having family meals and finding out reasons for children's dieting can go a long way in the prevention of eating disorders in children.
More research is clearly indicated to identify the causes of eating disorders in children so that appropriate treatment strategies can be developed.