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Eating Disorders Amongst Teens and Young Adults, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1769

Research Paper

Introduction

There has been an increased prevalence of eating disorders amongst tends and young adults. While individuals of both genders experience eating disorders, they are most common among adolescent girls. Women and men are both held to high standards according to the media. Furthermore, these standards are taken seriously by many young girls and boys, who have become depressed because they are unable to achieve these standards. Whether people withhold food or eat large amounts to make themselves feel better about their emotions or their image, extreme eating habits can be classified as an eating disorder. Overall, it appears that the media perpetuates the sense that eating disorders are okay. Pressure is put on both fat and skinny individuals in society and it has reached the point in which a larger percentage of adolescents do not feel comfortable in their bodies, regardless of their body type. It is therefore beneficial to evaluate the causes of eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, and to determine why they are becoming more common in society.

Frequency of Eating Disorders by Gender

Groups of oppressed people attempt to cope with their diminished status in society in a variety of ways. It is necessary to emphasize the trauma that women face as a consequence of societal standards and that this occasionally contributes to the initiation of health problems in this population as well. According to the ANRED survey, 90% of those diagnosed with eating disorders are female, indicating that there is an obvious possibility that the gender and the likelihood of having an eating disorder are related (ANRED 1). Generally speaking, the connection between sexual trauma in any gender and control-based eating disorders seems plausible. Individuals that are less confident about themselves due to past mental or physical traumatic events are therefore more likely to experience eating disorders. While females are more frequently the victims of such trauma, men can also be impacted by this experience. This partially accounts for the disproportionate numbers of female adolescents that have eating disorders compared to males.

Media Influence as a Justification for Increasing Frequency of Eating Disorders

Media is an increasingly common influence among the youth of society. In the traditional media, women are personified as the weaker sex. Furthermore, they are sexualized and images of them are used to demonstrate the image of the ideal female that in reality, none of them can be due to the extent with which these images are photo shopped. Even in the modern setting, women continue to be portrayed as individuals with low body fat, adorned in high fashion. The idea of the perfect woman that is put forth by media is not achievable, and many adolescents struggle with this. These individuals will never be able to achieve the small figures that are proudly displayed in movies and advertisements. The reality of this situation is that models with small frames are forced to avoid eating in order to continue having their characteristic appearance. Overall, to achieve an ideal body image, women must go to great lengths. For many, these efforts are not physically possible and some individuals choose to undergo surgery to look the way that society expects. Others that do not have this opportunity simply avoid eating in order to achieve a look that will be “accepted” by society (Fairburn et al. 407). Because adolescents are consistently exposed to this idea of the perfect male or female, they attempt to change themselves. For some, anorexia or bulimia is a solution. For others, binge eating is needed to emotionally cope with this stress.

Patient Rationale for Eating Disorders

There is a significant relationship between the concepts of control and anorexia and eating disorders. Those who believe that eating disorders are likely to occur as a consequence of trauma attribute the need for control to emotional trauma and socially dysfunctional relationships. According to researchers, anorexics’ is a show of “direct and immediate self-control” that might result from an over controlling environment under the “rule” of others. Given that emotional abuse victims feel vulnerable and want control, it becomes even more necessary for them to take the control that they can get, wherever they can get it. While the manifestation of eating disorders due to the need for an individual to gain control over his or her life is most closely related to the development of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating can also be said to be a consequence of this need because it allows individuals to have controlled intake of their food, whether they choose to completely restrict it, allow it all in, or reject it after it is consumed.

Anorexia

Anorexia is an eating disorder that is characterized by the tendency to eat small amount of food or to avoid eating altogether. Typically, this eating disorder manifests as a consequence of self-image issues or a lack of self-esteem. As a consequence, many individuals that restrict their eating do so because they believe they are fat, when in reality, they have achieved unhealthily low weights. This disorder is occasionally marked by constant exercise. Ultimately, anorexia could become damaging because underconsuming nutrition while engaging in physical activity could result in organ damage over time. When the body is undernourished, it utilizes many components of the body system in order to remain operational. First, the body uses stored fat as energy, and will then move to the muscles and organs as an alternative. Many individuals with anorexia that are severely underweight experience life-threatening heart conditions and may be hospitalized after a period of time. As the pressure on girls to continue remaining at a proper weight in the media continues, it is likely that anorexia will continue to be more common among adolescents and young adults. In order to prevent the occurrence of anorexia, it would be beneficial to provide these individuals with the resources that they need to lose weight in a healthy manner and how to feel better about their body images.

Bulimia

Bulimia is an eating disorder that is characterized by binging and purging. These individuals will therefore consume excessive amounts of food before vomiting it up to rid their bodies of the calories that they consumed. Bulimia is occasionally more challenging to detect than anorexia because individuals that binge and purge consume food (Dansky et al. 212). However, they do appear to gain proportionately less weight than individuals that consume similar amounts of food. While individuals with anorexia tend to avoid eating in front of others, this is not the case for bulimic individuals, although they may discreetly slip away to the bathroom following their meals to rid their bodies of the food that they had consumed. Individuals are bulimic for many of the same reasons as the individuals who become anorexic. However, this method it typically followed when a person is unable to dispel their food craving but regrets the large amounts of food that are eaten. Ultimately, it is important to consider that like anorexic individuals, bulimic individuals receive little nutrition to their bodies and may experience the same general weakness and organ damage that anorexic people experience. To put an end to the common nature of bulimia, it would be valuable to provide young girls and boys with counseling to help them feel better about themselves so they will not have to look towards exerting control over food as a solution to this problem.

Anorexia and Bulimia

Some individuals with eating disorders can exhibit a combination of anorexia and bulimia symptoms. It is challenging to determine when these individuals have an eating disorder because they are typically better about hiding their tendency to avoid eating or rid their bodies of food when they are willing to engage in both habits. Thus, it is necessary for the friends and family of these individuals to pay close attention to the habits of their loved ones so this behavior could be caught before it becomes detrimental to their health.

Binge Eating

Unlike anorexia or bulimia, binge eating involves the mass consumption of food. These individuals tend to eat food in order to achieve comfort and as a consequence, many eat past the point at which they feel full. Binge eating is used to help these individuals feel that they have control over their lives, and an eating habit has formed as a consequence. Like other eating disorders, binge eating can contribute to health problems, although these issues are the consequences of overexposure to nutrition rather than underexposure. As a consequence, individuals who have engaged in binge eating for a long period of time are at increased risk for becoming obese and suffering from obesity-related disorders, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Binge eating is the disorder that is least likely to be immediately deadly compared to the other eating disorders, but has the ability to contribute to severe bodily and organ damage over time (NEDA 1). Therefore, attempts should be made to help afflicted individuals reverse their eating habits so they can maintain a better health.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is apparent that eating disorders are highly prevalent in our society due to the influence that media has on the youth of the nation. Furthermore, eating disorders are more common among women because these individuals are disproportionately victimized by the media and society. It could be said that eating disorders are one way to help these individuals feel better about themselves while allowing them to maintain control over their bodies. There are several types of eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, but all result due to the need for the individual to cope with the stress that society has placed on their need to maintain a perfect image. To some, these eating disorders appear to be an act of rebellion, but others recognize the fact that it is important for these people to receive medical help. All eating disorders require treatment to avoid negative health consequences. Thus, it is necessary to get those that you know with eating disorders help so they will be able to remain happy and healthy.

Works Cited

ANRED. Statistics: how many people have eating disorders? 2011. Web. 13 December 2015. <http://www.anred.com/stats.html>

Dansky, B. S., Brewerton, T. D., Kilpatrick, D. G., & O’Neil, P. M. The national women’s study: relationship of victimization and posttraumatic stress disorder to bulimia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders21.3(1995): 212-228.

Fairburn, C. & Harrison, P. Eating disorders. The Lancet 361.1(2003): 407-416.

NEDA. Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders. N.D. 13 December 2015.<https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/media-body-image-and-eating-disorders>

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