In 1978, Brunch called anorexia nervosa a "new disease" and noted that the condition seemed to overtake "the daughters of the well-to-do, educated and successful families." Today it is acknowledged and accepted that anorexia affects more than just one gender or socio-economic class; however, much of the current research is focused on the female gender. "Anorexia nervosa is characterized by extreme dieting, intense fear of gaining weight, and obsessive exercising. The weight loss eventually produces a variety of physical symptoms associated with starvation: sleep disturbance, cessation of menstruation, insensitivity to pain, loss of hair on the head, low blood pressure, a variety of cardiovascular problems and reduced body temperature. Between 10% and 15% of anorexics literally starve themselves to death; others die because of some type of cardiovascular dysfunction (Bee and Boyd, 2001)."
Bulimia nervosa is a slightly less serious version of anorexia, but can lead to some of the same horrible results. Bulimia involves an intense concern about weight (which is generally inaccurate) combined with frequent cycles of binge eating followed by purging, through self-induced vomiting, unwarranted use of laxatives, or excessive exercising. Most bulimics are of normal body weight, but they are preoccupied with their weight, feel extreme shame about their abnormal behavior, and often experience significant depression. The occurrence of bulimia has increased in many Western countries over the past few decades.... [continues]
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