More Americans than you can imagine have some type of eating disorder. Ranging from Women to American teenage girls. Appearance and competition is one of the major reasons as to why we have such a high percentage of these women dealing with these disorders. Bone thin is seen, most times, as the health standard by people with eating disorders. Luckily, curves are slightly more acceptable now when you see posters, billboards, and commercials on TV today.
Men, are not completely exempt. Body builders make great models and men in show business compete with ever-thinner rivals, and can suffer reduced testicular functions from starving.
There a are 3 major eating disorders:
- Bulimia is one of the most common eating disorders. This disorder consists of consuming of huge amounts of food in a very short time period and then making yourself vomiting to purge it from the system. Dentists are the first to diagnose it because frequent vomiting erodes tooth enamel.
- Anorexia is self-starvation. Characteristics include a distorted body self-image, extreme preoccupation with food, and sometimes binge eating.
- Orthorexia. This eating disorder consists of a person who becomes obsessed with dietary purity to the point where it becomes self-destructive.
Do you have an eating disorder? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel overweight/fat regardless of what your body weight is?
- Have you failed time and again to diet and fail to lose weight?
- Do you still think you’re fat even after losing a good amount of weight?
- Do your weight loss goals match what you “should” be according to your height?
- Do you fast or put yourself on incredibly strict diets where you become totally preoccupied with food?
- Do you have a rigid eating routine?
- Do you eat when under stress, pressure, or depressed?
- Do you prepare food for everyone else, and then refuse to eat it? (Anorexics often do this.)
- Are you a compulsive exerciser?
- Does guilt take over you if you miss exercising?
- Do you feel fat because you missed a regular exercise schedule?
- Are you hiding your eating habits from others?
- Is your self-esteem linked to your eating habits?
- Do you feel out of control of your life?
- Does guilt take over you if you eat dairy, meat, high-fat or high-calorie vegetarian foods?
- Do you binge, or eat large amounts of food in short periods of time?
- Have you tried to “correct” your “pigging-out” by using chemical laxatives, vomiting, or fasting? (Bulimics are usually malnourished as well as extremely thin, because vomiting and excess laxative use discharge most of their nutrients.)
- Has your body changed in a negative unhealthy way since you changed to a strict unhealthy diet? Such as in harder stools? Slower pulse rate? Cold hands and feet? Bloating and water/fluid retention? Slower metabolism? Lack of menstrual period?
- Do you “look” different? Is it an unhealthy look? Yellow teeth? Bone loss? Tooth decay? Dull, brittle hair, dry hair? Dry skin? (Anorexics at times develop a layer of thin, downy hair, called lanugo, which helps them keep warm when body fat becomes dangerously low.) (Bulimics have a swollen neck, broken blood vessels on face and eroded tooth enamel from excessive vomiting.)
If you answered yes to 2 or more of these questions, then consider balancing the body to treat an eating disorder.
Here are the latest Eating Disorders Statistics according to ANAD (The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa And Associated Disorders Inc.):
• Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.1
• Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people who receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.2
• Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.3
• Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.4
• 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”5
• 86% report onset of eating disorder by age 20; 43% report onset between ages of 16 and 20.6
• Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.7
• 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.8
• 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.3
• The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.4
• Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.17
• In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.16
• An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.9
• Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “woman’s diseases.”10
• Among gay men, nearly 14% appeared to suffer from bulimia and over 20% appeared to be anorexic.11
Media, Perception, Dieting:
• 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight within 5 years.3
• 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.5
• The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.3
• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.12
• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.13
• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).
• Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.14
• An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime.14 Research suggests that about 1 percent of female adolescents have anorexia.15
• An estimated 1.1 to 4.2 percent of women have bulimia nervosa in their lifetime.14
• An estimated 2 to 5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a 6-month period.14
• About 50 percent of people who have had anorexia develop bulimia or bulimic patterns.15
• 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.18
Although eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, the mortality rates reported on those who suffer from eating disorders can vary considerably between studies and sources. Part of the reason why there is a large variance in the reported number of deaths caused by eating disorders is because those who suffer from an eating disorder may ultimately die of heart failure, organ failure, malnutrition or suicide. Often, the medical complications of death are reported instead of the eating disorder that compromised a person’s health.
According to a study done by colleagues at the American Journal of Psychiatry (2009), crude mortality rates were:
• 4% for anorexia nervosa
• 3.9% for bulimia nervosa
• 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified
• Risk Factors: In judged sports – sports that score participants – prevalence of eating disorders is 13% (compared with 3% in refereed sports).19
• Significantly higher rates of eating disorders found in elite athletes (20%), than in a female control group (9%).20
• Female athletes in aesthetic sports (e.g. gynmastics, ballet, figure skating) found to be at the highest risk for eating disorders.20
• A comparison of the psychological profiles of athletes and those with anorexia found these factors in common: perfectionism, high self-expectations, competitiveness, hyperactivity, repetitive exercise routines, compulsiveness, drive, tendency toward depression, body image distortion, pre-occupation with dieting and weight.21
Even after seeing all these stats, anorexia is rare among African-Americans. An article in psychology today states that in fact, not a single black woman, in a study done on anorexia in 2011, met criteria for anorexia in the earlier 12 months, and there were no reports at all of anorexia in Caribbean adults. Interestingly, however, the age of onset for anorexia was lower for African-American adults (14.9 years) compared with late adolescence as seen in an earlier similar national study with primarily White participants (18.9 years), and there were no cases among African-Americans occurring after age 19. These findings show that Black Americans are at lower risk of anorexia than their White counterparts, and Caribbean Blacks are at an even lower risk. Although when African-Americans do have anorexia, the age of onset is lower and the course of the disorder is longer. The lower rates of anorexia are thought to be due to less of an emphasis on thinness in African-American culture operating as a protective factor.
Lifetime prevalence rates found for bulimia in Black Americans is 1.5% for adults, which is slightly higher than the national average of 1.0%. The average age of onset is 19 years, which is the same as the general population. Thus, rates of bulimia among Blacks may not be as uncommon as once believed. This finding could be a sign that Black people do feel pressure to conform to the American ideal of thinness, contributing to the higher rate of bulimia, although not to the more extreme level that is connected to the development of anorexia.
Binge eating was the most prevalent eating disorder among Blacks in the NSAL, with a lifetime prevalence of 1.7%, although 5.1% had some problems with binge eating whether or not they met criteria for a disorder. Males were significantly less likely to binge than women, but may have more issues around behaviors that emphasize an athletic build. While most eating disorders had an age of onset during adolescence, binge eating had the highest age of onset (22.8), which is similar to the general population. This older age of onset may reflect less of a concern for smaller body size and may represent more of a reaction to stress. Lower incomes and stress due to racism may have an effect on the drive to binge as a coping mechanism.
As in previous research, adult women had higher prevalence of eating disorders than men in the NSAL study. There were no gender difference in eating disorders among teens, but there was a tendency for boys to exhibit more disordered eating behaviors during adolescence. There is some research that indicates this could be due to weight restrictions for sports participation, such as school football, boxing, wrestling teams, etc. Therefore, Black boys should not be considered immune to eating disorders.
Taken as a whole, research shows that cultural differences must be taken into account when considering eating disorders in African-Americans. Clinicians should be prepared to recognize and treat groups that may be least likely to develop an eating disorder. This will require training to work with diverse cultural groups to ensure that appropriate treatment is provided. Professionals should be educated to possible differences ing prevalence, age of onset, persistence and gender differences in eating disorders, including differences among subgroups of Black people. The social climate and subculture in which a person was raised may effect the risk and course of development of an eating disorder. Earlier and more frequent screening of eating disorders in Black communities may be a critical component to capturing cases of these disorders.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, use the following natural herbal therapy combination (a combination I have used with patients and clients with marvelous success) to help the body heal from emotional imbalances, normalize appetite and metabolism, regulate mood-appetite brain chemicals, control stress reactions, stimulate digestion and nutrient assimilation, maintain an ideal weight, increase energy, and to bring in green whole superfoods, all considered lifesavers:
*Note: There is a well-known link between sexual abuse and eating disorders. Chinese medicine is known to balance emotionally and physically. Western herbs do not do it the same. For this reason I recommend the Chinese Negative Pack in all programs involving eating disorders.
Focus on optimal nutrition, Friends and Family. Herbs and roots along with fruits, vegetables, and wholesome whole grain foods, were placed here on this earth to keep us on a path of optimum health.