Health In Focus
  • Eating disorders are complex psychiatric problems involving disturbed eating patterns.
  • There are many contributing factors that trigger erratic eating behaviors, including feeling “out of control” in one’s life, feeling anxious or depressed.
  • Eating Disorders Awareness Week is observed between 27th February and 5th March..
  • The National Eating Disorder Awareness theme for this year is ‘It’s time to talk about it’.

What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are serious psychiatric problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males. Eating disorders include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.

A person with an eating disorder has negative feelings about body image, concerns about body shape and is conscious about body weight, which results in problematic eating habits and compensatory behaviors, including starvation, binging, vomiting, compulsive exercise and the abuse of diuretics.
Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017

Types of Eating Disorders

The three main types of eating disorders are: anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN) and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS).

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa sufferers have a preoccupation or intense fear of gaining weight, or an abnormal desire to achieve thinness. They refuse to maintain a minimum acceptable body weight and typically do not recognise (or deny) the adverse effects on health that the extreme weight loss or low body weight brings. Individuals with this condition often have a perceived body size and shape which is inconsistent with reality.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is another type of eating disorder where a person eats without any control. The quantities of food is usually larger than most would eat at a particular time. Usually, the binging takes place privately as they feel ashamed to gulp down high-calorie food with friends or family.

Binge Eating

Binge eating disorder is when a person involves in eating large quantities of food when not feeling physically hungry, eating alone because of being embarrassed by the amount that one is eating and feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or very guilty after overeating.

Who is Affected the Most?

More than 75% of eating disorder cases begin in adolescence. In a recent national survey, done in US, 1 in 8 adolescent girls and 4% boys demonstrated eating disorder symptoms. More than 50% of them engaged in fasting, purging or excessive exercise to lose weight.

Why Should We Treat Them?

  • Eating Disorders are often long-term, chronic recurring conditions which have considerable short and long-term effects on the health, relationships, employment, fertility and family life of affected individuals.
  • Nutrition deficiency showing signs of dry skin, loss of skin color, brittle hair and nails, tooth decay and irregular menses are the some of the effects apart from reduced heart beat, decreased bone mass, sleep disturbances and impaired concentration.
  • An eating disorder is not solely based on food, or on the desire to be thinner. Sexual abuse, genetic predisposition, family emotional problems, a high need for perfectionism, media and peer pressure contribute to the causes. Since it affects an individual psychologically, it needs immediate attention.
  • Unlike other health disorders, eating disorders can be reversed in any individual. With motivation, guidance and counseling on how to handle eating problems, the disorder can be treated and reversed.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017

The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to shine the spotlight on eating disorders and to provide life-saving resources into the hands of those in need. Every year, a theme is chosen and the activities revolve around them. This year's theme is "It's Time to Talk About It."

Previously only teenage girls had concerns about their body image, but now boys and the adult population are affected. So it's time we take eating disorders seriously as public health concerns. It's time we get to know the facts and stave off the myths.

Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice. It's time to recover, take action and fight for change. It's time to shatter the stigma and increase access to care.

"The Eating Disorder Awareness theme for this year is 'It's time to talk about it,' and this is our chance to do just that," says Marybeth Burns, board president for T.H.E. Center for Disordered Eating in Asheville.
  • The theme is of great significance as those with the illness usually don't accept it and talk about it.
  • They live in fear thinking that there is no cure. If left unnoticed, it can lead to depression and suicide.
  • Only when the condition is identified and brought out, treatment could be initiated.
  • Eating disorders are life-threatening and not only requires medical care but nutritional support as well as counseling to fight their disorder with healthy eating habits.

Reference :
  1. Eating Disorders - (
  2. Types & Symptoms of Eating Disorders - (

Source: Medindia

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