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Eating Disorder: A Rapidly Spreading Global Health Hazard

Posted on April 14, 2011 in Health and Life


By Srishti Chauhan:

When Rick McCall read his daughter Elisa’s diary, he realized the prominent warning signs that he had turned a blind eye to. It was all so clear. Each and every action of his daughter (which had seemed rather strange at first but later on had come to be accepted as a part of her being) came to be seen in an entirely new light. It was so obvious now that these were signs of eating disorders.

Eating disorders are phenomena that are ignored largely- especially in the developing countries. It is not-yet- seen as the next widely spread health hazard.

With the infusion of internet into the everyday lives of people, the detrimental effects are also evident. There are many sites on the internet with names such as “Anorexic nation” or “Starvation girl’s production”. These sites call themselves pro-ana (for pro-anorexia) or pro-mia (for pro-bulimia). These sites believe in encouraging the members to resist the temptation to eat. Sometimes going as far as promoting eating a single apple in 3 days, the members give each other tips on how to conceal this disorder and treat it as a healthy habit.

The eating disorder is not confined to starving oneself to size zero. There are sites which promote obesity as being healthy. Publishing wrong facts and encouraging people who are obese to not take up measures to regain fitness, these sites have members egging on each other to remain in poor health.

In foreign countries there are organizations which monitor the content on the internet and hence ban these sites. However, the success ratio of this practice is quite low since if one site is banned, 20 more come up to replace them.

The promotion of size zero in the fashion world about a decade ago has started an unhealthy revolution. Emulating the models is not only a desire of the adolescents; it is also a fad that affects the people in their 20s and 30s.

It is time to realize the seriousness of the disease. It is not something that can be controlled simply by a lecture at the dinner table. Noticing and taking action against the symptoms of eating disorders is the need of the hour. People suffering from eating disorders need proper continued medical counselling.

There have been cases when people have convinced the society around them that they recognize and accept this problem and shall take steps to fight against it after only few weeks of counselling. However, experts say that the temptation to fall back to the same unhealthy lifestyle is too strong to resist and most people become victims to the disease again.

Moreover, young women can be predisposed to eating disorders. Research has concluded that both anorexia and bulimia may be between 50-80% genetically influenced.

Most victims are young women who read incomplete and unverified reports and suggestions in newspapers about female actors and models and their schemes to lose weight.

The blend of gym culture into our everyday lives is yet another phenomenon that promotes injurious lifestyle for those who misuse is greatly. Excessive intake of protein shakes as a replacement for food in the hope of quick building of muscles is detrimental for the liver since it can digest only a small amount of it at a time. Moreover, the nearly addictive desires for building up muscles opens way for intake of steroids- the long-term effects of which put health in jeopardy.

A while ago, actor Kareena Kapoor came under the scanner for being too thin. It was alleged that she was surviving only on orange juice. Hollywood actors are infamous for such desperate and unhealthy attempts at losing fat. The purple diet followed by many thin Hollywood ladies has been the greatest source of distress to the Health Ministry in the USA.

In the end, the only thing worth saying is that we should make our decisions keeping in mind a lot of things and after proper research. Moreover, opening up to the idea that such a disorder can be extremely serious is important. Acknowledging the problem is the first step towards eliminating it.

Img: by Janine