Eating Disorders News: March 2010

Exploring Diabetes' Link To Eating Disorders
Medical News Today

Diabetics, under the gun to better manage their disease by controlling their food intake and weight, may find themselves in the sticky wicket of needing treatment that makes them hungry, researchers said.

Attempts to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and prevent weight gain may suggest an eating disorder when the disease and its treatment are to blame, said Dr. Deborah Young-Hyman, pediatric psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia's Georgia Prevention Institute.

"You can't use the same criteria to diagnose eating disorders that you use in non-diabetic populations because what we actually prescribe as part of diabetes treatment is part of disordered eating behavior. Food preoccupation is one example," she said.

Preoccupation with food, in fact, is required for optimal disease management. Questions like "What are you putting in your mouth? Did you know that was going to raise your blood sugar?" are a part of life, Dr. Young-Hyman said. Young women, and increasingly young men, also are not immune from societal pressures to be thin, she noted.

continued: Exploring Diabetes' Link To Eating Disorders

March Is Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month is a campaign that focuses on the importance of helping children and teens make healthy food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits. Estimates of the number of overweight children range from a low of 13% to a high of 30%, having doubled since the early 1970s. This means that approximately 6 million children could be at-risk for current and future self-esteem and health problems. On the other side of the weight issue, an estimated 7 million girls and 1 million boys have an eating disorder. The age of onset of these potentially life threatening disorders is getting lower, with children as young as seven being diagnosed.

Weight is determined by a variety of factors: genetics, environment, activity, and emotions. With respect to the psychology of eating problems, some of the same feelings can both result from and lead tounhealthy eating behaviors. For example, it is unclear if such feelings as loneliness, sadness, anger, anxiety, lack of control, worthlessness, low self-esteem, or disordered body image are the cause or the effect of eating problems.

When dealing with children and weight issues, avoid calling attention to the child’s weight. Nagging is unsuccessful when you’re trying to change behavior. To a child, pressure to lose weight can feel like a crushing criticism and ultimately backfire. Praising and encouraging children in other areas will go farther with respect to improving their self-esteem.

continued: March Is Nutrition Month

Eating Disorders Can Affect Anyone
The Southern

Diets and weight loss have been a very popular issue among college students. Many students have gone over board with weight loss and developed many different eating disorders.

According to American Medical Journal, an estimated 10 percent of female college students suffer from a clinical or sub-clinical eating disorder, of which over half suffer from bulimia nervosa.

An estimated one in one hundred American women binges and purges to lose weight. Approximately five percent of women and one percent of men have anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, according to the American Journal.

Kathy Picate, Florida Southern College's health advocate, talks to many different students who struggle with day-to-day eating issues.

"Its very sad to see students struggle with eating disorders," Picate said. "They have food or their weight on their mind all the time. Many people would be surprised with how many students suffer from these disorders."

Not only do women students suffer from the pressures of being thin, but men also struggle with many eating disorders.

According to Men's health magazine, studies suggest that five to ten percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are males.

continued: Eating Disorders Can Affect Anyone

New TV Show Perpetuates Anorexia Myths
Discovery News

A new VH1 show called “The Price of Beauty,” hosted by Jessica Simpson, will premiere soon. The theme of the show is the extreme measures that some women will endure to look beautiful. It’s a worthy subject, but unfortunately the series is already spreading misinformation about a serious disease: anorexia.

In one of the first episodes, Simpson and her friends interview former model Isabelle Caro, who suffers from anorexia. Caro made international news a few years ago by putting a photo of her emaciated frame on billboards. She is now an activist trying to pass a law prohibiting very thin women from becoming professional models.

Simpson told Oprah in a recent interview, "It makes me very emotional because just the pressure that women feel to be thin or to be beautiful--the pressure that the media puts on women--is so unfair and so disgusting." The show’s efforts seem sincere, but its understanding of anorexia leaves much to be desired. The concern over thin models is nothing new, to either the media or the fashion industry.

What Isabelle Caro, Jessica Simpson, and the VH1 show don’t realize is that anorexia has little or nothing to do with fashion modeling. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia are biological diseases, not voluntary behaviors. The idea that a model, photo of a model, or Web site can "encourage" anorexia is not supported by science or research. Images of thin people cannot "encourage" anorexia, any more than photographs of bipolar patients "encourage" bipolar disorder, or photos of diabetics "encourage" diabetes.

Though many people are convinced that anorexia is a threat to most young women because of the media images they see, that’s not what the scientific evidence says. Anorexia is a very rare and complex psychological disorder with many indications of a strong genetic component; as anorexia expert Cynthia Bulik noted in her 2007 study “The Genetics of Anorexia,” published in the Annual Review of Nutrition, “Family studies have consistently demonstrated that anorexia nervosa runs in families.” Most research studies have failed to find a cause-and-effect link between media images of thin people and eating disorders.

continued: New TV Show Perpetuates Anorexia Myths

Only The Beautiful Need Apply
Medical News Today

New study flags damaging effect of joining a sorority on body image and eating behaviors.

Undergraduate women who join a sorority are more likely to judge their own bodies from an outsider's perspective (known as self-objectification) and display higher levels of bulimic attitudes and behaviors than those who do not take part in the sorority's recruitment process. Over time, those women who join the group also show higher levels of body shame. These findings, part of Ashley Marie Rolnik's senior honors thesis at Northwestern University in the US, are published online in Springer's journal Sex Roles.

On college campuses across the US, thousands of women join sororities every year through a structured recruitment process - the sorority rush. Although these sisterhoods provide college women with opportunities for personal growth and enrichment, they have been criticized for their potential to lead their members to focus excessively and unhealthily on their appearance.

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More Eating Disorders For Women Over 30

Eating disorders are usually seen as a problem of girls and young women. But experts say they're seeing more women in their 30s, 40s and even older seeking treatment for anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

"We went, literally, from having zero at any given time to having a subgroup of anywhere from five to 10 . . . It's a big increase," said Kimberly Dennis, the medical director at Timberline Knolls, a residential treatment center in Lemont for eating disorders and substance abuse.

Lynn Grefe, chief executive officer of the National Eating Disorders Association, said the group hasn't done formal research on the trend, but, "anecdotally, we are hearing more and more cases of women over 30" seeking treatment.

continued: More Eating Disorders For Women Over 30

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