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Eating Disorders: The Facts and How to Get Help

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are a group of conditions characterized by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual’s physical and emotional health, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa being the most common specific forms in the United States.

Reasons for eating disorders are poorly known but may vary from person to person. Factors contributing to eating disorders range from ADHD to mental health disorders to body image. Some think that peer pressure and idealized body-types seen in the media are also a significant factor.

No Body is Perfect

What are some facts?

Here are is the astonishing truth:

In the United States:

  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men
  • One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
  • Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
  • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males

In Canada:

  • In 2005, more than 500,000 Canadians suffered from some sort of eating disorder (Canadian Mental Health Association).
  • According to a 2002 survey, 1.5% of Canadian women aged 15 – 24 years had an eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, between 18-20%
  • Eating disorders are the most common chronic illnesses in the female adolescent population, with an incidence of up to 5%.
  • Men are more likely to be affected by binge eating disorder than any other type of eating disorder.
  • A study published in 2001 reported that 23% of adolescent females were dieting to lose weight
  • According to a 2002 survey, 28% of girls in grade nine and 29% in grade ten engaged in weight-loss behaviours.
Why are eating disorders prevalent in our youth?eating disorder awareness

Grade-nine students already see themselves as “too fat”.  According to a study, 37% of girls in grade nine and 40% in grade 10 perceived themselves as too fat.

Even those students who are normal in weight (based on their body mass index or BMI), 19% believed that they were too fat, and 12% of students reported attempting to lose weight.

Boys are not excluded from this disorder.  In a survey of adolescents in grades 7-12, 25% of boys reported being teased by their peers about their weight (girls 30%).

And it doesn’t stop at school.  Such teasing has been found to persist in the home as well – 29% of girls and 16% of boys reported having been teased by a family member about their weight.

Eating disorders and the Media:

Our girls are starting out way too early worrying about their weight.  What is to blame?

The link between eating disorders and the media is high on the list of factors.  Self-esteem becomes too closely tied to physical attributes and girls feel they can’t measure up to society standards.   My article on celebrities who suffer from eating disorders shows the prevalence of body image issues in Hollywood itself.

The media, including television, movies, videos, music, magazines and the internet all portray images of girls and women in a sexual manner, such as revealing clothing, body posture and facial expressions, as models of femininity for girls to emulate.  How can our young girls not be influenced if this is all they see?

What can you do?

Search for local treatment in your area.

Call or visit the website of a national organization, such as the National Eating Disorder Information Centre.    Womenshealth.gov offers some great resources as does the National Eating Disorders Association and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Visit Girls Inc.

Visit Dove Self-Esteem 

Visit Teens Health 

Read a personal account by Sharon DeVellis

Read Part 1 on AMW here

Sources: http://www.nedic.ca/knowthefacts/statistics.shtml  and Wikipedia

Eating Disorders in Hollywood: Celebrities who Suffer

Demi Lovato is in rehab getting betterThis week, Demi Lovato made headlines after she checked into a medical center on to get professional help for eating disorders.  A fight with a back-up dancer prompted her to check into rehab for ‘emotional and physical’ issues, which also stemmed from teenage bullying.

Demi, 18, had reportedly been struggling with her weight for quite some time.  “She definitely had body-image issues. She was always conscious of her weight,” the family friend said.  “Like many other teenage girls, she struggled a lot to fit in and find acceptance.

“She fought through eating disorders and has struggled with cutting. [She] is taking control by getting help.”

Why is this continuing to happen to our young girls?  Demi’s troubles are yet another example of how our young women today struggle with poor body image and self-acceptance because of an unhealthy body image in the media.

The singer-actress has recently said, “Feeling comfortable in your clothes is something I deal with to this day. I wish I had somebody I had to look up to when I was younger to stand up and say, ‘Hey, I have fat days.’  So I want to be able to start a foundation or something that’s for girls feeling confident, to empower them.”

Demi’s father also spoke openly about his daughter, blaming the pressure of Hollywood on his daughter’s issues.

Other celebrities who have struggle with weight issues:

Megan Fox?Megan Fox: eating disorder?

Megan fox said of teen girls, “Girls go through different phases when they’re growing up, when they’re miserable and do different things, whether it’s an eating disorder or they dabble in cutting.”

She never confirmed whether she battled an eating disorder but said, “If I did talk about it, I’d be taking on a role-model status, and I’d have to choose my words very carefully, and I’d have to make sure I reveal it in a specific way, and I don’t want to do it.”

Lady Gaga: eating disorder?Lady Gaga?

If Lady Gaga’s former tour manager is to be believed, America’s favorite musical fashion queen is suffering from a serious eating disorder and was hospitalized at least six times in 2009.

“When I say she was sick, I mean physically and mentally,” David Ciemny claims in a new unauthorized tell-all “Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga,” according to RadarOnline.

The book, written by New York Post veteran reporter Maureen Callahan, interviewed 50 friends, employees, rivals, and music industry veterans, to try and get a fuller picture of the star who grew up as Stefani Germanotta.

Ciemny recalled being on tour with Gaga who would “binge on sweets and unhealthy food, then not eat for weeks to fit into her costumes – one time losing 20 pounds between fittings,” reports Radar.

Gaga’s reps have not confirmed or denied these accusations  but whether or not the celebrity is suffering from an eating disorder, we hope she gets the help she needs.

Portia de Rossi

Portia de Rossi eating disorderFormer ‘Ally McBeal’ actress Portia de Rossi admitted to an eating disorder and blamed Hollywood’s pressure to stay skinny for developing an eating disorder. She was on Ellen just recently talking about her eating disorder very openly. The actress has spoken about those days she spent eating less than 300 calories, bingeing, and purging.

At one low point, the actress found herself at an alarming 82 pounds. Hollywood loves to reward weight loss, but sometimes the stars take it too far. With therapy and emotional support from wife Ellen De Generes, Portia is back to her current 125-pound weight and hopes to keep improving.

Eating Disorders and the Media

Eating Disorders: The facts and how to get help

 

Photos: Wikipedia