Posts Tagged ‘binge eating disorder’


Although childhood obesity is a devastating health problem there looms another on the other end of the weight spectrum- eating disorders. Eating Disorders occur when normal eating and behaviors surrounding food, weight management, and body image become extreme. Anyone; females, males, all races, people from all socioeconomic levels and all intelligence levels; can develop eating disorders. Eating disorders affect 5 to 10 percent of all students.

Factors that influence eating disorders may include emotion and personality disorders, family pressures, a genetic or biologic susceptibility, physical or sexual abuse, and a culture where there is an overabundance of food and an obsession with weight. These factors lead many youth to diet, control their appetites, lose weight, and eventually develop one of three different types of eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorders. All of the disorders are extremely serious.

Anorexia nervosa is a devastating eating disorder in which those affected adopt patterns of behavior that in extreme cases, may lead to self-inflicted starvation. Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include: refusal to maintain weight, intense fear of weight gain, distorted body image, loss of sexual desire or menstrual periods, extreme concern with body weight and shape. Personality traits associated with individuals with anorexia include: perfectionists, conflict avoidant, emotionally or sexually inhibited, compliant, approval seeking, excessively dependent, socially anxious, fear of spontaneity, reluctant to take risks, practice food rituals.

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binging and purging behaviors. Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa include: making excuses to go to the bathroom after meals, has had mood swings, may buy large amounts of food which suddenly disappears, has swelling around the jaw, normal weight, eating large amounts of food on spur of the moment, laxative and diuretic wrappers are found frequently in the trash, unexplained disappearance of food in the home, may avoid eating around other people. Characteristics of people who suffer from bulimia are: moody, cannot stand to be alone, demand constant attention, difficulty controlling impulsive behavior, secretive behavior.

Binge eating disorder is similar to Bulimia in that individuals eat large amounts of food in short amounts of time. However these individuals do not purge. Some symptoms include: eating large amounts of food in short periods of time, a sense of lack of control, eating much faster than normal, eating until uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food when not hungry, eating alone to avoid being embarrassed about how much one is eating, feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilt after overeating.

What can parents do to prevent eating disorders?

 Educate children about the genetic basis for different body types, and the nature and ugliness of prejudice.

 Avoid over emphasizing beauty and body shape, especially for girls.

 Promote healthy behaviors such as sensible exercise and eating. Learn and discuss the dangers of weight loss diets.

 Make a commitment to exercise for the joy of moving your body and not for purging fat.

 Teach your children not make judgments on others based on their appearance.

 Encourage intuitive eating. Never limit caloric intake unless requested by a physician.

 Do whatever you can to promote the self-esteem and self-respect of your daughters, nieces and sisters in intellectual athletic, and social endeavors. Give boys and girls the same opportunities and encouragement.

Information adapted from Ohio State University Factsheets ED 1001-1007.

Reviewed by Susan Zies, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension

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