Dying To Be Thin…

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, in the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.  Millions more are struggling with binge eating disorders.  Due to the stigma associated with these disorders, many more go unreported.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when most of the research on eating disorders began, experts felt that young girls were the primary group affected and branded the disorders as a “teenage disease”.  Disturbingly, the number of young women diagnosed with eating disorders has not waned at any time since then.

Additionally, other groups are showing alarming rises in diagnoses:

Women in their late twenties, thirties, and forties:  At the Renfrew Center’s 11 treatment locations, the number of patients over age 35 has skyrocketed 42 percent in the past decade.  Likewise, a couple of years ago at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, an estimated 10 percent of patients were over age 25; today, a whopping 46 percent are over 30.  And when it opened in 2003, the University of North Carolina’s Eating Disorders Program was designed for adolescents—now half of its patients are over 30 years old.

Men:  The National Eating Disorder Association reports that one million men suffer from an eating disorder, but only 10 percent of those men seek treatment.  A study of 135 males hospitalized with an eating disorder noted that the males with bulimia felt ashamed of having a stereotypically “female” disorder, which might explain their delay in seeking treatment.  Binge eating disorders may be less recognized in males because an overeating male is less likely to receive the same attention as an overeating female.

Much like the politics in the United States, eating disorders have long been a two-party system, Anorexia and Bulimia.  In the early 1990s, the American Psychiatric Association introduced a new diagnostic category, Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOA).  Although they were atypical at the time, EDNOA diagnoses now outnumber those for both Anorexia and Bulimia.  Here are a few you may not be familiar with:

The new disorder:  Orthorexia
What it is:  A fixation with healthy or righteous eating, to the point of obsession.

The new disorder:  Pregorexia
What it is:  Extreme dieting and exercising while pregnant to avoid gaining the 25 to 35 pounds of weight doctors usually recommend

The new disorder:  Binge Eating
What it is:  Compulsive overeating, often to deal with negative emotions or stress

The new disorder:  Anorexia Athletica
What it is:  An addiction to exercise

The new disorder:  Drunkorexia
What it is:  Restricting food intake in order to reserve those calories for alcohol and binge drinking

If you or someone you know needs help or would like to talk to someone about eating disorders, there are places you can turn:

National Eating Disorders Association

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

These sites also provide additional information regarding research, diagnosis, treatment, resources and what you can do to help.

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Posted on April 17, 2012, in Ramblings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I think Drunkorexia was my issue for some time. Most people call it self medicating but at some point when alcohol=happiness it where it al goes to hell. I want people to know that having a drink is just having a drink and not necessarily always equating to a good time. If you think drinking alone is a bad stigma, try drinking your favor drink by yourself and realize “hmmmm, I drunk much less when I drink alone watching Mad Men” it might save you a couple pounds.

    • I think that what they are diagnosing with Drunkorexia is when people who do not eat because they don’t want their alcohol consumption to make them gain weight. I suspect that it is diagnosed most often in conjunction with a substance abuse issue. I actually know several women who do this. Maybe not to the point of needing help, but certainly at the level of concern.

  2. I in no way have Drunkorexia (I had to read this name several times as it sounds so unreal) but I am going out for drinks tonight and the thought crossed my mind to give up dinner “in preparation” for margaritas. I can see how this could be construed as a way to drink while still being “healthy”. And pregorexia!? that is shocking.

    • I think that in the same way that having been drunk on occasion does not make you an alcoholic, swapping calorie choices doesn’t mean you have an eating disorder.

      With that said, it is sad and scary that our minds can get so twisted by how we view ourselves, that we can entertain these choices as permanent solutions.

  1. Pingback: How to Recognize an Eating Disorder « Fitness and Healthy Living Tips

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