WHAT WE KNOW
Anorexia nervosa sufferers intentionally starve themselves. Left untreated, anorexia nervosa can result in death or permanent physical, emotional, and psychological damage.
- Approximately one percent of adolescent girls develops anorexia nervosa.
- The disorder, which usually begins in young people around the time of puberty, involves extreme weight loss, reaching a weight at least 15% below the individual's normal body weight. Many with the disorder look emaciated but are convinced they are overweight.
- Food and weight become obsessions. For some, the compulsion shows up in strange eating rituals or the refusal to eat in front of others. It is not uncommon for people with anorexia to collect recipes and prepare gourmet feasts for family and friends but not partake in the meals themselves.
- Loss of monthly menstrual periods is typical in females with the disorder.
- The number of men who suffer with anorexia is growing. Male sufferers often become impotent.
- The most common causes of death are complications of the disorder, such as cardiac arrest, electrolyte imbalance,
Bulimia sufferers follow a destructive pattern of excessive overeating followed by vomiting or other "purging" behaviors to control their weight.
- People with bulimia nervosa consume food and then rid their bodies of the calories by vomiting, abusing laxatives or diuretics, taking enemas, or exercising obsessively. Some use a combination of these forms of purging.
- Many individuals with bulimia "binge and purge" in secret and maintain normal or above normal body weight.
- Bulimics can often successfully hide their problem from others for years.
- Episodes of binging and purging can range from once or twice a week to several times a day.
- Dieting heavily between episodes of binging and purging is also common.
- Half of those with anorexia will develop bulimia.
- The condition occurs most often in women but is also found in men.
- Many individuals with bulimia, ashamed of their strange habits, do not seek help until they reach their thirties or forties. By this time, their eating behavior is deeply ingrained and more difficult to change.
- Bulimics can suffer dehydration, fluid and electrolyte imbalances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, gastrointestinal problems, eruption of the esophagus, chronic kidney problems/failure, tooth decay, and irregular heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest and death.
Binge eating disorder sufferers have episodes of uncontrolled eating (bingeing). Unlike bulimics, however, those suffering from binge eating disorders do not purge their bodies of excess food.
- Binge eating disorder sufferers feel that they lose control of themselves when eating.
- They eat large quantities of food and do not stop until they are uncomfortably full.
- They usually have more difficulty losing weight and keeping it off than do people with other serious weight problems.
- Most people with the disorder are obese and have a history of weight fluctuations.
- Binge eating disorder is found in about 2% of the general population, more often in women than men.
- Recent research shows that binge eating disorder occurs in about 30% of people participating in medically-supervised weight control programs.
- Feelings of self-disgust and shame associated with this illness can lead to out-of-control eating again, creating a cycle of binge eating.
- Sufferers are at high risk of medical complications due to obesity.
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