Preventing and Detecting Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are among many medical conditions that affect human beings and greatly interfere with their health. They are described as disturbances in eating behavior and are usually marked by two extremes such that a person may be taking extremely small or large quantities of food (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). In most cases, eating disorders are accompanied by feelings of distress or great concern of body weight and shape. Studies of National Institute of Mental Health indicate that though at times a person may be eating normally, sometimes they experience an uncontrollable urge to eat more or less food (2009).

The disorder may affect people of all ages but high prevalence is recorded during adolescence and early adulthood. As much as they are treatable, effective treatment has not been identified for the chronic types. Moreover, the underlying behavioral, biological and social causes have not been identified. Since eating disorders are common medical disorders, this paper shall discuss more about them and narrow down to detection and prevention of the same. 2. 0 Background Information According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2009), anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the main types of eating disorders.

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However, there is a third group of eating disorders usually referred as eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS). The category of EDNOS contains disorders that are almost similar to anorexia nervosa or bulimia though they present different characteristics. For instance, binge eating is usually classified under the third category and is almost similar to bulimia nervosa. There are usually gender variations in eating disorders since women are affected more than men. People suffering from anorexia nervosa are usually emaciated and thin.

They are mostly reluctant to maintain the normal healthy body weight and have a distorted body image. Due to low body weight, women and girls suffer from lack of menstrual periods. Anorexia nervosa patients usually practice weight control measures such as excessive exercise, dieting, induced vomiting, use of diuretics and laxatives. Individuals suffering from bulimia nervosa are characterized by eating extremely large amount of food at different episodes. However, to compensate for the high amounts of food eaten, they usually engage in behaviors such as fasting, exercise, vomiting and use of laxatives.

Although they may have normal body weight, they usually suffer from great fear of gaining weight (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). Binge eating is an eating disorder usually characterized by uncontrollable urge of eating food. People suffering from the disorder are usually overweight and obese because they do not exercise, purge or fast after eating excessively. Further studies indicate that since patients suffer from guilt and shame due to their binge eating behavior, they usually eat more to suppress their feelings.

Most of the eating disorders coexist together with other psychological illnesses like depression, anxiety and problems related to drug and substance abuse (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). Binge eating disorder is the most common disorder when compared with bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa according to the studies of Hudson, Hiripi, Pope & Kessler, (2007). This is due to the fact that results of a survey that was conducted indicated that among all individuals interviewed, 0. 9% and 0. 3% of women and men respectively had suffered from anorexia nervosa while 0. 5% of men and 1.

5% of women had suffered from bulimia nervosa. On the contrary, 2% of men and 3. 5% of women had suffered from binge eating. The study affirmed that all the eating disorders occur mostly in people suffering from problems like anxiety and substance abuse disorders (Hudson, Hiripi, Pope & Kessler, 2007). Eating disorders are complex and therefore their treatment is usually undertaken by a primary care physician, nutritionist and a mental health specialist (Walsh, Wheat & Freund, 200). However, a physician can manage the whole process if the patient declines to involve other members of the health care team.

The physician coordinates the treatment process and also has the responsibility of managing all the medical complications that may affect the patient. Nutritionist monitors weight and the nutritional intake and also works hand in hand with the physician to ensure that the patient is able to adapt to normal nutrition habits. The mental health specialist helps the patient to overcome any psychological conditions and unlearn the already formed abnormal habits. Having had an overview of eating disorders, it is important to discuss the detection of the same.

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