Development of Eating Disorders in Adolescents

Topics: Adolescence, Mental disorder, Psychiatry Pages: 5 (1924 words) Published: November 17, 2013


Development of Eating Disorders in Adolescence

The purpose of this paper is to bring awareness about the development of eating disorders during the adolescent years. Eating Disorders are a serious psychology disorder characterized by severe abnormal eating behaviors. These behaviors can range from insufficient amount of food intake, extreme episodes of overeating, purging, and obsessive preoccupation with food or weight. Eating disorders can lead to heart problems, osteoporosis, seizures, digestion problems, amenorrhea, kidney damage, tooth decay, and sometimes even death. It is estimated that eight million people in America have an eating disorder, and it is the third most common illness among female adolescents (Journal of Adolescent Health, 2003). These growing numbers have made it important to find out what causes the disorder, how to treat it, and most importantly, how to prevent it. Adolescence is a time of physical, cognitive and social change that everybody goes through at some point in the life, although some may start earlier or later than others. Entering puberty and becoming an adolescent is one of the most stressful times of a person’s life, because it is stressful both mentally and physically. This is a time when they begin to discover who they really are as they seek to be more independent from their parents and have more responsibility, all while their bodies are drastically changing. During puberty, a time when your body becomes sexually mature, the body’s height and weight naturally increases. The amount of weight gained depends on nutrition, activities, and how much the basal metabolic rate decreases, usually about fifteen percent (Burrows, A. & Cooper, M., 2002). Typically boys will get more muscle and girls gain more fat, especially around their hips to prepare for child bearing. Entering into your adolescent years is confusing, stressful and emotional. Some teenagers develop from adolescence into early adulthood without a problem, but some may end up developing some type of psychological disorder, because unfortunately this is the time when they are most susceptible (Journal of Adolescent Health, 2003). A lot of people, especially girls, think that the weight gained during puberty is permanent and will feel uncomfortable about it, so they diet to try to get this extra weight off. They do not realize that once the body is done developing, their weight will usually become more stable and go to their body’s natural set point weight, with the proper nutrition (Burrows, A. & Cooper, M, 2002). Once they start losing weight, people might compliment them, which would make them feel good. They may start to believe that losing weight will make them happier, but no matter how much weight is lost, it is never enough, and eventually this becomes such an obsession that it turns into an eating disorder (Stanford University School of Medicine,1996). Adolescents are under a lot of social pressure, they want to fit in and be liked by their peers. Most teenagers spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think of them and trying to fit into the society’s idea of the “ideal body”. Eating disorders are actually only a disorder known in Western societies. Other cultures do not have as many body image issues as the United States does (Stanford University School of Medicine, 1996). This shows how much society plays a role. One eating disorder statistic shows 80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance. Another statistic on eating disorders indicates 55% of the adult population of the United States is dieting at any given time (Gambrel, A. E, 2013). Adolescents learn the idea that to be liked and happy you must be thin. There are many teenagers out there buying seventeen or fashion magazines on a regular basis and the pictures of the emaciated models in these magazines only makes them believe even more that in order to be happy, accepted and beautiful,...

References: Burrows, A. & Cooper, M. (2002, September). Possible Risk Factors in the Development of
Eating Disorders in Overweight Pre-adolescent Girls
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Vol 70, No. 5, 1119-1128.
Journal of Adolescent Health. (2003). Eating Disorder in Adoloscents: Position Paper of the
Society for Adolescent Medicine
Leon, G.R., Fulkerson, J.A., Perry, C.L., Cudeck, R. (1993). Personality and Behavioral
Vulnerabilities Associated With Risk Status for Eating Disorders in Adolescent
Stanford University School of Medicine. (1996). Weight Concerns Influence the Development of Eating Disorders: A 4-Study Prospective Study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Pyschology
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