Anorexia And Bulimia

Anorexia Nervosa: a condition characterized by intense fear of gaining weight
or becoming obese, as well as a distorted body image, leading to an excessive
weight loss from restricting food intake and excessive exercise.

Bulimia: an eating disorder in which persistent overconcern with the body weight
and shape leads to repeat episodes of binging (consuming large amounts of food
in a short time) associated with induced vomiting.

To support our definitions we interviewed Dr. David Praul of
Charter Hospital by fax.

1. Is there a typical sufferer of Anorexia or Bulimia?
While anorexics are often members of the middle class or affluent
society, recent findings show sufferers come from all backgrounds and many
different styles and sizes of families. Also there is a tendency for anorexics
to set unreasonably high goals and to aim for perfection in all that they do.
Generally speaking, bulimia is likely to begin after the late teens,
while anorexia more often starts during adolescence. The incidence of anorexia
or bulimia in males is about 5% of all cases, with the onset of the disorders
generally mid-teens to early twenties.

2. What are the causes of the eating disorders Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia?
There are many theories, but no clear picture. It is an over
simplification to blame the mass media\'s presentation to blame the mass media\'s
presentation of the ideal shape: though western society\'s increased emphasis on
the slim, fit body places pressure on many people.
We know there are many factors affecting the development of the
disorders- biological, psychological and sociological- so the relationship
between parent and child need not to be seen as the dominant cause. However the
reluctance to mature physically (sexually) and emotionally, and the issues of
personal control between parent and child, could contribute to some cases of
Low self -esteem and poor body image contributes to both disorders; and
it seems life crises- such as changing relationships, childbirth or death- may
trigger the eating disorders.

3. What are the side-effects of Anorexia and Bulimia?
These are described more fully in Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa
Foundation of Victoria\'s brochures on the disorders.
The anorexic experiences physical side-effects similar to malnutritian,
with severe sensitivity to the cold, loss of menstral periods and growth of
down-like body hair. Bulimic women may also stop mensturating or have irregular
periods. Both disorders involve the possible dysfunction of the kidneys,
imbalance in the bodily chemicals and damage to colon or urinary tracts.
Constant vomiting erodes dental enamel and gives the person a sore throat and
Each disorder places tremendous emotional strain on sufferers, the
malnourishment of anorexics actually results in an inability to think clearly or
Despite many sufferer\'s reluctance to admit anything is wrong, the
quality of life for an anorexic or bulimic person leaves a lot to be desired.
Friends and families are alienated by the unpredictable and anti- social
behavior of the sufferer. The anorexic and bulimic person is unable to take
part in food related activities, and may undergo a complete personality change.
Left untreated, both disorders can lead to even death, so I would
reccommend expert advice as soon as possible.

4. How are the family and friends of the victim affected by the diseases?
Parents often comment on the seceptions practiced by their sick child.
While anorexics will usually deny having a problem, bulimics wilo go to great
lengths to conceal the problem. It is a shock for a parent to find evidence of
vomitting, of empty boxes of laxitives in a daughter\'s room. Husbands are
devistated to learn the reason their wife delays coming to bed each evening is
that she is purging herself in the bathroom. The siblings of a sufferer often
become co-consdiritors with their brother or sister to keep the truth form their
The strain of living with the eating disordered person can create
divisions in the family. Each person is involved by the sufferer\'s behavior in
different ways. However, all of the family members feel about the same
emotions: confusion, helplessness, anxiousness, and anger. Everybody wonders
how to approach the loved one and how to deal with the problem.

5. What can families and friends do to help the sufferers?
The fisrt step is to get the problem out in the open, but being really
senstive about it and taking great care. The person who has the disorders feels
shame and guilt and may feel threatened that the secret is out. They might feel
angry, and the feelings need to be worked out in a constructive way. Reassurance
that the friends and family do not blame the sufferer will help a lot.
Sufferers need to seek professional help and family members need