The Skinny and Fat of Eating Disorders

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The Skinny (and Fat) of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are common in many societies and have been prominent throughout our world’s history. According to professor Merry N. Miller, MD, the professor and interim chair of the department of psychiatry at the James H. Quillen College of medicine at East Tennessee State University, “The history of eating disorders can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians” (Pumariega 96). People with eating disorders generally lead miserable, unhealthy lives, but are commonly unable to get themselves out of them without professional help and therapy. Eating disorders are very varied in types; some don’t even have specific names and are put into one obtuse category. These eating disorders are most often caused by multiple factors, ranging from socioeconomic status, genetics, and a psychological obsession with food. However, regardless of types, all eating disorders have negative impacts on the individual, in various aspects such as health implications, social skills, and even intelligence.

Out of the various types of eating disorders, three of the most prominent ones are anorexia, binge eating disorder, and obesity. Anorexia, according to Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the Obesity Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, is a disease where people abstain from food by “convinc[ing] their body that they don’t need food” (Kluger, Gorman, Park 1). Most patients who are anorexic are extremely emaciated and malnourished. They also have very warped and unrealistic body images as well as an irrational obsession with food. About three percent of women are diagnosed with this eating disorder every year. Another common disorder is BED. According to writer Naomi Barr, binges are “when you feel out of control while eating a large amount of food” (Barr 5). These compulsive gorging behaviors can be minor to very extreme. They tend to originate because of the inane feeling of comfort that one could experience from food. After binging, some people feel extremely fearful that they will gain weight, and can regress into purging, which is another common eating disorder called bulimia. When one doesn’t purge and retains the excess of calories, one can go down the path of obesity. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases classifies obesity as “having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much…Obesity occurs over time when [one] eat[s] more calories than [one] use[s]” (1). Obesity is by far the most common disorder, with more than one-third or around thirty-five percent of Americans diagnosed every year (Darmon 1). Although obesity is completely different from the other eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, they are all caused by many similar factors. Eating disorders come from a platitude of origins, a few of the main ones being socioeconomic status, genetics, and an unhealthy obsession with food. According to Adam Drewnowski, PhD, who is a world-renowned leader in innovative research approaches for the prevention and treatment of obesity, the “highest rates of obesity…in the United States are found among the lower-income groups. The observed links between obesity and socioeconomic position may be related to dietary energy density and energy cost. Evidence is emerging that obesity in America is a largely economic issue” (Darmon 1). This is because energy dense fatty fast foods are inexpensive, tasty, and convenient in contrast to the lean meats, fish, fresh vegetables, and fruit that are generally more costly and require effort to prepare. As unfair as it may seem, genetics also play a role in eating disorders. Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the Obesity Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital says “Obesity is at its base a metabolic disorder…most[causes] are either inherited or the inbred responses of an organism that is designed to protect itself from starvation. Stress, sleep deprivation, and long...
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