about eating disorders
struggle with bulimia and anorexia is more common than you might think. If
you are suffering from an eating disorder — or if you love someone who
is — we hope you’ll find the following information helpful.
The truth about eating
• One percent
of teenage girls and 5 percent of college-age women become anorexic or bulimic.
• A female
who diets before the age of 14 is eight times more likely to develop an eating
• One out
of 10 people with an eating disorder is a male.
percent of models, ballerinas and athletes whose field requires leanness practice
disordered eating and dieting.
gain is normal during adolescence. Girls grow 10 inches and gain 40 to 50
pounds from age 12 to 14. Boys grow 12 inches and gain 50 to 60 pounds. The
weight gain and height increase are not always perfectly synchronized, thus
many adolescents experience periods of “chubbiness.”
Medical consequences of
Anorexia (An eating
disorder characterized by markedly reduced appetite or total aversion to food.
Anorexia is a serious psychological disorder that goes beyond out-of-control
appearance, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, gastrointestinal
disorders, menstrual irregularities or cessation, reduced body
temperature, loss of muscle tissue, nutritional imbalance, osteoporosis,
altered brain function and size, anemia, impaired renal function
and other cardiovascular abnormalities.
disorder characterized by episodes of binge-eating followed by inappropriate
methods of weight control, such as self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives
and diuretics, or excessive exercise. Bulimia’s insatiable appetite
is often interrupted by periods of anorexia.)
and electrolyte imbalance, tooth decay and gum erosion (from stomach
acid present during vomiting), enlargement of salivary glands,
gastrointestinal disorders, esophageal or gastric dilation or
rupture, muscular weakness (including the heart), edema (fluid
retention), vitamin deficiencies and central nervous system disturbances.
Red flags: How
to tell if a loved one might be suffering from an eating disorder:
focus on weight, food, calories and dieting
of being fat despite a thin appearance
comparison of body image or diet with others
facial hair growth in girls
messes and smells in the bathroom
to the bathroom after meals
• A “chipmunk”
appearance caused by inflammation of the saliva glands
of the use of laxatives (empty bottles, advertisements, etc.)
of large amounts of food inconsistent with weight
or stealing food
lightheadedness or dizziness not explained by any other medical problem
• Poor dental
hygiene, bad breath, cracked lips caused by purging and dehydration
to eat meals with family or friends
• Food rituals
such as eating food in rigid sequence, not allowing foods to touch each other,
eating a very limited variety of foods, cutting food into small pieces, blotting
foods with napkins to remove excess fats
— Adapted from
Beyond Appearances, published by Focus on the Family
(1997, 2000, 2002). Used by permission. As seen on www.family.org.
Where some get help
Ministries, a full-service evangelical mental-health outpatient
• The Remuda
Ranch, a Christian treatment center for women and adolescent girls
suffering from anorexia and bulimia (www.remuda-ranch.com).