Eating Disorders

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Anorexia Nervosa is a serious and often fatal eating disorder in which the individual deliberately restricts themselves of food due to an obsession with thinness and weight loss. I chose to focus on Anorexia because it is both a serious and growing public health concern within Canada. This paper will focus on the characteristics, prevalence, and treatment for Anorexia Nervosa as well as how this applies to social work practice. As Anorexia is such a fatal condition, understanding its characteristics and treatment are relevant and important for a social work professional. Signs and Symptoms

Table 1
Physical, psychological, behavioural, and social signs and symptoms associated with Anorexia Nervosa. |Physical |Psychological |Behavioural |Social | |Excessive weight loss |Distorted self-perception: |Preoccupation with food. |Refusing to eat in public. | |No menstrual period (if at age |believe they are overweight when |Calorie counting. |Avoidance of situations where | |of menstruation) |they are not. |Refusing to eat. |eating is expected (dinner with| |Thinning hair |Being preoccupied with food |Compulsive exercising. |friends/family). | |Dry skin |Denial of the seriousness of |Constantly weighing themselves.|Defensive towards | |Brittle nails |their condition. |Skipping meals or making |friends/family who express | |Cold or swollen hands/feet |Obsessive-compulsive behaviour |excuses not to eat. |concern. | |Bloated or upset stomach |Low self-esteem. | |Relationship breakdowns. | |Low blood pressure |Depression. | | | |Fatigue | | | | |Abnormal heart rhythms | | | | |Osteoporosis | | | |

Public Health in Canada and Worldwide
Eating disorders are more common in females than in males, but they do affect both genders. A study estimated that approximately 0.5% - 4% of women in Canada will develop Anorexia Nervosa during their lifetime (Public Health Agency, 2002). Another Canadian study found that 0.9% of females and 0.3% of males had been diagnosed with anorexia (National eating disorder, 2011).

Internationally the popularity of anorexia is highest among young women, with a rate of 0.3% (Morris and Twaddle, 2007). A review of the rates of eating disorders found that there is evidence of eating disorders in countries worldwide, but that the rates are much higher in western countries compared to non-western countries. Iran appears to have the highest rate of occurrence at 0.9% of all non-western countries (MedGenMed, 2004). This same study speaks to the difficulty in researching eating disorders in non-western countries using the same ways western countries do. On the same note, Morris and Twaddle (2004) refer to Anorexia Nervosa as the “Cinderella of research” (pg.1). This term refers to the difficulty that is faced in engaging people with Anorexia, as many do not seek treatment, which in turn makes it hard to do research on anorexia. It is important to keep this in mind when viewing the given statistics. Age of Beginning

The average age of onset for Anorexia is 17 years old, but it can occur in younger and older people. The Public Health Agency of Canada’s Paediatric...
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