Eating Disorders in Adolescents

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Eating is a basic survival behavior. To many people eating is a way of life, brining families together, creating relationships and bonds between people and is an expression of feelings and emotions. But there are negative aspects to food as well, such as obesity and other eating disorders. Eating disorders are very dehabilitating and misunderstood disorders that affect an unbelievable amount of the population; they not only put strain on the body, but also on the mind, and often the families of those with an eating disorder. There is a wider range of eating disorders in childhood and adolescence than is commonly realized, and these are frequently either not recognized or misdiagnosed. With children as early as age seven showing dissatisfaction with their bodies, and as young as nine starting dieting, eating disorders are a serious issue in our society. Taking a look at perceptions, peer influence and medical issues associated with the disorders of anorexia and bulimia and how it effects adolescents.

Individuals with eating disorders often perceive the image of their bodies as larger instead of what is normal for them. Views of what is attractive have become so distorted and skewed by the things children grow up around, such as their environment and home life ie television. What young adults see in the mirror isn’t necessarily what they actually look like. People with eating disorders often believe they are over weight even when they are grossly underweight, among normal weight women, a self-reported weight overestimation of at least five percent of one’s body weight significantly predicts the presence of one or more disordered eating behaviors, even when other known risk factors for eating disorders are controlled for (Conley, 2007).

This may be due to Distorted Body Image. A common type of Distorted Body Image is Dysmorphic Body Disorder, a condition that involves obsessions, which are distressing thoughts that repeatedly intrude into a person's awareness (Marieb, 2010). An individual might stay home or cover up to avoid being seen by others. These behaviors also include things like not participating in class or socializing with other people the same age (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

Some eating disorders can be caused by emotional trauma due to bullying of weight or even from lack of self confidence, or peer influence. The psychological effects of bullying can be severe and long-lasting. Verbal bullying, or teasing somebody about their weight may trigger other profound effects such as eating disorders, depression or even suicide (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Eating disorders may start from power in numbers when a group of people, mostly young children, push each other to change their bodies to fit in and/or an individual forcing themselves to change to have a sense of belonging. Low self-worth and low self esteem, especially if closely linked to body image and appearance, can be significant contributing factors to the causes of eating disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Self esteem is high factor for most individuals. The more they lose weight the better they feel about themselves and the feeling of achievement is great, where as gaining of weight acts as a failure and causes the individual to continue to not eat or binge and purge (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Negative thought patterns are often linked to low self esteem. Bullying can take a toll on young adults, which may carry over to later in life and continue to effect a vulnerable mind. According to interviews done by the British charity Beat, of more than 600 students and young adults suffering from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. Ninety-one percent of the teens surveyed said they had been bullied, and almost half (46 percent) said they believed that bullying had contributed to their eating disorder (Bullying and Eating Disorders, 2010).

Sufferers may believe themselves not worth...
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