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Eating Disorders - Research Paper Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Eating Disorders. At a time when many young girls aspire to an unrealistic slimness, which is held up to be the ideal of feminine beauty, the discussion of eating disorders is particularly relevant. Eating disorders are abnormal eating habits…
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Eating Disorders Research Paper
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Download file to see previous pages The National Institute of Mental Health categorically states that “Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses” (NIMH website. 2011). Eating disorders most often develop during adolescence and young adulthood, although children and older adults may also suffer from them in some cases. Both men and women may be affected, but it is girls and women who are the primary victims. It is often difficult to diagnose eating disorders, as the sufferers are acutely conscious of their abnormal behavior and attempt to conceal the problem from family and friends. There is a tendency to “withdraw from social contact and deny that their eating patterns are problematic” (American Psychological Association website. 2012). Eating disorders arise from a combination of causes. The three major types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and EDNOS (eating disorders not otherwise specified), which includes binge-eating disorder. (NIMH website. 2011). There is no single cause for eating disorders, which occur due to a variety of contributing factors. The fundamental cause is an acute concern about body shape and weight. Negative family influences, genetic factors, cultural pressures and hormonal abnormalities are the main causes of eating disorders. Parental Behavior and Attitude, including criticism of weight and appearance, may lead to eating disorders. A family history of maternal eating disorders, substance abuse and emotional disorders, sexual abuse and obesity, are other contributing family influences. The genetic factors involved in eating disorders involve specific chromosomes (chromosome 10 is connected to bulimia and obesity), chemicals (serotonin is concerned with appetite and well-being) and proteins (BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is linked with susceptibility to eating disorders). The cultural pressures that cause eating disorders are founded on the conflicting influences of food abundance, which causes obesity, and the social and cultural ideal of extreme slimness as the foundation of beauty and sexual attractiveness. There is a conflict between the media advertisement for easily available consumer foods and the advertisement of weight-reduction programs and designer clothes, featuring extremely thin models. Hormonal abnormalities play a part in susceptibility to eating disorders. The limbic system of the brain, called the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA), release hormones and neurotransmitters which are concerned with hunger metabolism and the emotional activities involved in eating disorders. In addition to these causes, certain risk factors are associated with eating disorders: age (adolescents and young adults), gender (young girls and women), socioeconomic factors (developed countries), personality and emotional disorders, being overweight and excessive exercising. (University of Maryland Medical Center website. 2009). Anorexia nervosa is characterized by a pattern of self-starving and extreme weight loss. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the symptoms of anorexia include emaciation, intense fear of weight gain, extreme pursuit of weight loss, distorted body image, refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, loss of menstrual periods, and a self-esteem which is dependent on perceptions of body weight and shape. This distorted body image makes people with anorexia perceive themselves to be fat, even when they are dangerously thin. The other ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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