Eating Disorders

What are eating disorders?

"Psychological disorders characterized by disturbed patterns of eating and      maladaptive ways of controlling body weight"

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. For women ages 15 to 24, the mortality rate of anorexia is 12 times higher than any other cause of death.

Types of Eating Disorders

                                                  1. Anorexia Nervosa

  • The person affected believes that they are overweight when in reality they are very underweight. (BMI = < 17)
  • Fear of gaining weight as well as a very distorted body image.
  • Involves food restriction (limiting or not having certain foods or food groups)
  • It can lead to many other health affects and is the highest mortality rate in psychological disorders (National Institute of Mental Health).
  • Treatment is possible and all patients respond differently while some respond to treatment right away, others can have relapses and long lasting health issues

Health Consequences of Anorexia

  • The risk for heart failure rises as the blood pressure and heart rate levels decrease.
  • Reduction of bone density, fatigue, and weakness
  • Severe dehydration which can result in kidney failure
  • Dry skin  
  • Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.

2. Bulimia Nervosa

Two phases:

1. Binge - loses control of their eating

  • Occurs over a short period of time (1-2 hours)
  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control: eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.
  • Sometimes it is not followed by exercise or self-inflicted vomiting so it is very common for the person to be severely overweight.

2. Purge- any inappropriate compensatory mechanism

  • Vomiting
  • Laxatives
  • Enemas
  • Diuretics

Health consequences of Bulimia

  • Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration, loss of potassium and sodium from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
  • Electrolyte imbalances can lead to irregular heartbeats, heart failure and death.
  • Inflammation of esophagus from frequent vomiting
  • Tooth decay from stomach acids from vomiting
  • Irregular bowel movements or ulcers

                                                 3. Binge Eating Disorder

  • Eating an unusually large amount of food in a short period of time and feeling a loss of control during this episode.
  • Binge eaters do not purge afterwards, but often feel a lot of shame or guilt about their binge eating.
  • Obesity

Statistics on Eating Disorders

  • 95 percent of people with eating disorders are ages 12-25.
  • According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 42% of 1st-3rd graders want to lose weight, and 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.
  • Female athletes in the sports of gymnastics, figure skating and ballet have the highest rate for eating disorders.
  • 10-15 percent of people with eating disorders are Males. Males also are the most untreated because of the perception and stigma that Eating Disorders has with women.


   1. Biological factors

  • Irregular hormone functions
  • Genetics

   2. Psychological factors

  • Negative body image
  • Poor self-esteem

   3. Environmental factors

  • Professions and careers that promote being thing and weight loss
  • Cultural or peer pressure(friends, co-workers)
  • Unrealistic standards in the media → Feel pressure to lose weight or look a certain way


1. First step: Ask for help

2. Therapy

  • Learning healthy eating habits
  • Behavioral-Cognitive therapy
  • Medication-effective in helping resolve mood or anxiety symptoms or in reducing binge-eating and purging behaviors

3. Improve body image

  • Dress to express yourself, not to impress others.
  • Knowing that thin ideals are purely fantasy or stay away from them.

4. Relapse prevention

  • Develop a solid support system
  • Stick with eating disorder treatment plan
  • Fill your life with positive activities

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Goal: The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness Week) is to put the spotlight on the seriousness of eating disorders and to improve public understanding of their causes, triggers and treatments.

This year the National Eating Disorders Association is focusing on the importance of early intervention and recognizing the diverse experiences of people personally affected by disordered eating.

Southern Smash aims to educate the public about the dangers of eating disorders, but also to empower women to celebrate and embrace true beauty and self-love.


Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (2004). "Eating Disorders Statistics". Web. Retrieved From: (2014). Retrieved from

National Institute of Mental Health (2014). "Eating Disorders: About More than Food". Office of Science, Policy,Planning and Communication. Web.  Retrieved From:

Center for Young Women's Health (2014). "Eating Disorders: General Information". Web. Retrieved From:

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