Anorexia Nervosa, which is often just referred to as Anorexia, is an eating disorder that consists of specific caloric restrictions that are self imposed. There are many reasons why someone may develop Anorexia over time, from self-image issues to an initial medical need to cut calories. When suffering from this eating disorder, people have a literal fear of gaining weight. This fear makes food an aversion and so they will only eat something when it is absolutely necessary.
Facts About Anorexia Nervosa
1. It is estimated that 1% of women and adolescent girls have anorexia.
2. Males make up about 10 to 15 percent of those who suffer from anorexia.
3. Teens and young adults between the ages of 12 and 26 make up 95 percent of those who have eating disorders.
4. Anorexia is the most common cause of death among young women ages 15 to 24. It is up to 12 times higher than any other condition.
5. 35% of people who start a “normal” diet will take their diet to unhealthy extremes, and up to 25% of this group will develop a full-blown eating disorder.
6. There is some evidence that the tendency to develop eating disorders may be hereditary.
7. In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.
8. 40-60% of elementary school girls between the ages of 6-12 are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.
9. A review of nearly fifty years of research confirms that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.
10. The rate of development of new cases of eating disorders has been increasing since 1950.
11. There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 in each decade since 1930.
12. Anorexia Nervosa is more common among Non-Hispanic Whites.
13. Alcohol and other substance abuse disorders are 4 times more common in those with Anorexia Nervosa than in the general population.
14. Only $28 million per year has been dedicated to research that can help the nearly 30 million people who suffer from eating disorders every year.
15. 82% percent of respondents to an American Viewpoint survey believe that eating disorders are a physical or mental illness and should be treated as such, with just 12% believing they are related to vanity.
16. 85% of Americans believe that eating disorders deserve coverage by insurance companies.
17. 4 out of every 10 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
18. 8 out of every 10 girls that is the age of 10 is afraid of being fat.
19. Almost half of 9-11 year olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets according to recent research and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.
20. Up to 57% of girls under the age of 18 engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. Overweight girls are more likely than normal weight girls to engage in such extreme dieting.
21. Even among clearly non-overweight girls, over 1/3 report dieting in order to support their self-image that they want others to see.
22. Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
23. Only 10% of men and women with eating disorders will ever receive treatment.
24. Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are diseases that aren’t associated with their gender.
25. It is estimated that up to 20% of gay men suffer from some form of Anorexia.
26. 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.
27. People who participate in judged sports are more likely to suffer from Anorexia than those who participate in sports that are scored through points or monitored by referees.
28. Female athletes in sports that are based on aesthetics, such as gymnastics, are at the highest risk of developing Anorexia than any other athlete.
29. About half of the people who suffer from Anorexia also meet the clinical criteria for depression.
30. As many as 1 in 3 teenage boys admit to taking unhealthy methods that will help them control their weight. 1 in every 2 teenage girls admits to the same thing.
31. About 70% of girls under the age of 18 admit that images they see in mass media influence their desired body shape.
Because of how disruptive Anorexia can be, it is important to make sure that any changes in behavior of family or friends is questioned.
Additional Anorexia Facts
The problem with Anorexia and why it kills more than 1,000 women in the United States every year is the fact that those who suffer from this order cannot get the nutrition their body needs to survive. Over time, Anorexia will cause damage to almost every organ and every system within the body. Nothing is off-limits! The kidneys, liver, heart, skin, hair, teeth, and brain are all at risk of being damaged when exposed to the nutritional deficiencies that Anorexia can cause.
Anorexia also manifests into physical symptoms that can create health issues as well. Low blood pressure is a common side effect of this eating disorder, as is a pulse that is abnormally slow. Bone densities become reduced as the body seeks out the minerals it needs for survival and dehydration can ultimately lead to kidney failure if not properly treated. Hair becomes brittle, the skin becomes dry, and for teenage girls, even growth spurts can be stopped if Anorexia is present.
Is it possible to tell if someone is suffering from the symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa? There are some key indicators that may help you determine if someone may be suffering from this eating disorder. The most typical behavior that is displayed is a desire to avoid food at all costs. Someone with Anorexia might talk about feeling bloated or fat, even though they have become thin. They may deny feelings of hunger, be obsessed with dieting, or even socially withdrawal. In prolonged cases, this eating disorder has even been known to cause emotional changes that can lead to depression and other phobias that may develop.
Effects of Disease
The effects of Anorexia Nervosa might seem to be beneficial at first, especially if those final 5 pounds can finally come off, but those perceived benefits soon go away for everyone but the person with the eating disorder. If someone is participating in a sport where body image is necessary or they are in the public eye and facing the pressure to be a certain size, then the risks of suffering from or developing Anorexia will greatly increase.
So what can be done to relieve this pressure? There is a lot of pressure on American families right now to lose weight. Recent data from the American Medical Association says that up to 40% of the children in this current generation will develop diabetes in their lifetime and that’s the highest percentage on record. When dieting is part of a family’s routine, then it becomes normal for their environment. It could very well be why so many girls today see themselves as being too fat or wanting to diet – sometimes by the age of 6.
The first step to take is to reinforce the value that every child and every person has. People begin to diet or restrict calories because they don’t see themselves as good enough. We’ve got to teach girls and boys from an early age that slow and steady wins the race, even if they fit into an overweight or obese BMI chart, because otherwise we are increasing the pressures on them to be thin, glamorous, and accepted by society.
We must also be willing to bring the treatment of Anorexia to those who are suffering from this eating disorder. Many who have Anorexia Nervosa don’t see their choices as “wrong.” They are doing what needs to be done in order to achieve the body image that is in their mind. The only problem is that once those body distortions come, they will fight even harder to reduce the amount of food they are consuming in order to obtain the desired result.
It is also important to note that although up to 15% of Anorexia cases are male-related, nearly 1 in 5 gay men may suffer from at least a mild form of this eating disorder. Reaching out to these population groups that may choose to ignore the issue instead of try to seek treatment is important. Pride can get in the way quite often with guys and that could end up being the perception that destroys them.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder. It’s a mental illness. It isn’t something that people do to be vain, although there may be some who started dieting in the first place to improve their self-image. We can pull together and help those with this issue! They are our family, our friends, and our loved ones.