Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Eating disorders

Million people in this country have an eating disorder. Many of these people suffer from unrealistic and unhealthy body images. These disorders are brought on by mental or emotional problems, such as depression or low self-esteem. Having an eating disorder places a person at risk for developing severe medical problems. The risk is especially great for teens because their bodies are already undergoing dramatic physical changes.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by self-starvation leading to extreme weight loss. Anorexia is most common among female teens between the ages of 14 and 18, though the disorder can occur in males as well. People with anorexia often have low self-esteem and a poor body image. In an effort to gain control over their lives and bodies, they begin to change their diet. This usually means eating less and less food in an effort to lose weight. They may also exercise a lot. Even when a person with anorexia is dangerously thin, he or she may still see themselves as being overweight. When the body is deprived of adequate food, a number of serious problems can develop. The person may become significantly underweight. Without proper nutrients, the body cannot grow and repair itself in normal ways. For example, bones can become thin and brittle from lack of calcium, and body temperature and blood pressure can drop. If left untreated, a person with anorexia could die from starvation, heart failure, kidney failure, or other medical complications. The depression that often comes with anorexia can sometimes lead to thoughts of suicide.

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