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Anorexia Nevosa and obsession with the “ideal’’ body image


Women may face self esteem issues particularly because of their body size. It was known that models sometimes battle with health conditions such as anorexia to maintain their figures. So what is exactly anorexia? Anorexia Nervosa is simply an eating disorder that is defined by low body weight which is relative to stature. It is a function of the individual’s height and weight. The individual is on a mission to shed off weight. When it becomes to extreme and is backed up by illogical fear of adding weight then it becomes a serious case. Individuals who suffer from poor self image and body are known to anorexic. Anorexia is not common to only women but to men also. Such individuals are obsessed with a thin figure and having abnormal eating habits. Anorexia nervosa can be used interchangeable with the term “anorexia,” which refers to self-starvation and lack of appetite.

Basically, there are two common types of anorexia namely:

  • Anorexia Nervosa Binge / Purge Type – The individual suffering from this usually purges after eating. The sufferer is overwhelmed with feelings of guilt stemming from eating. So to compensate, the individual resorts to vomiting, laxative abuse or excessive exercising.
  • Restrictive Anorexia Nervosa – In this form of anorexia nervosa, the individual religiously limits the quantity of food consumed. They prefer taking food that is devoid of the required calorie content for their body. In other words, they starve themselves.

Both types of anorexia share the same symptoms that are irrational fear of weight gain and abnormal eating patterns. Other signs and symptoms include obsession with calories and fat contents of food, engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food, depression or lethargic stage, reported sensation of feeling cold, particularly in extremities, loss or thinning of hair and avoidance of social functions, family and friends.

Anorexia is a complex disorder. It develops as a result of multiple factors, both biological and environmental.

Environmental factors that would contribute to the occurrence of anorexia nervosa are:

  • The promotion of the ideal body shape by the media which is to be thin means sexy.
  • Professions and careers that promote being skinny and weight loss, such as modeling
  • Family and childhood traumas e.g. childhood sexual abuse, severe trauma
  • Peer pressure from friends and co-workers to be thin or be sexy.

Biological factors include:

  • Malfunctioning of the hormones
  • Genetics
  • Nutritional deficiencies

Anorexia can be best treated medically, nutritionally or through therapy. A patient of anorexia suffers from the ailment as a result of malnutrition. The patient should be fixed on a diet that aids weight restoration.  The sufferer should also be orientated about normal eating habits. The goal of therapy is to understand the underling issues associated with the patient’s eating disorder, put a stop to it and heal the sufferer from traumatic life events.

By Patricia Uyeh

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