In today’s world, many people suffer from eating disorders. And, this is true for children as well as adults. This is basically a problem in the way people eat. This is a very common yet serious disorder that can affect a person’s emotional and physical health. At times, if not treated on time, it can even lead to life-threatening conditions.
According to a study at the University of Helsinki, Finland, eating disorder among young adults has long-term effects on their health. This kind of disorder among 24-year-old women and men was an indicator of higher body weight, larger waist circumference and lower psychological well-being as well as a lower self-evaluation of general health both at age 24 and ten years later.
Published in the European Eating Disorders Review, the study was a part of the extensive FinnTwin 16 study. It included more than 4,900 young Finnish men and women. The research participants answered questionnaires on eating behaviour, weight, health and psychological well-being at age 24 and again, ten years later, at age 34.
When all variables were considered, disordered eating at age 24 was a predictor of lower psychological well-being among both women and men. It was also an indicator of lower self-evaluation of health among men 10 years later.
INDICATORS OF AN EATING DISORDER
Researchers of the above mentioned study say that disordered eating is detrimental to the physical and mental health of young adults both in the short as well as in the long term. They also say that you may be suffering from an eating disorder if you arbitrarily decide when you are hungry or full. This is regardless of how you are actually feeling.
Other indications of this condition may be if you weigh yourself constantly or drink non-caloric drinks to keep from feeling hungry. You may also be suffering from this condition if you meticulously plan each meal long into the future, count calories and weigh foods, follow an excessively strict diet or cut certain foods from your diet claiming health or ethical reasons, when the real motivation is weight loss.
TYPES OF EATING DISORDERS AND HEALTH RISKS
The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). Let us see what exactly they mean.
If you have anorexia, you may eat very little on purpose and suffer from an uncontrollable fear of weight gain. This leads to drastic weight loss. But you will still see yourself as fat. People with this condition think about food or calories all the time and may use laxatives, diuretics (water pills) or enemas to induce weight loss.
Aneroxia can induce low blood pressure, slow or irregular heartbeats, constipation, gas, fatigue and slow growth. It can also cause irregular periods and make bones weak. You may notice mood changes and emotional problems like anxiety and depression. People with this condition may also suffer from thoughts of hurting themselves.
In this condition, people overeat. This is also a kind of binge eating. You may realise that you are eating too much but you are unable to stop yourself. This makes them feel guilty and they may induce vomiting. People with this condition may also use laxatives, diuretics, weight loss pills, fast, or over exercise to lose weight.
Bulimia can cause low blood pressure and irregular heartbeats. You may also notice blood in vomit or stool and experience weakness and fatigue. Dental health suffers and you may witness swollen cheeks. Emotional problems are anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies.
People with this condition overeat and they also eat fast. They are unable to stop and they eat even when they are not hungry. People with this condition tend to be overweight and they also prefer to eat alone. But unlike in people with bulimia, those with binge eating disorder will not induce vomiting or use laxatives to make up for binge eating.
This disorder can put you at risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, fatty liver and sleep apnoea. A feeling of loneliness, depression and anxiety are also common in people with this disorder. You may also suffer from a low self esteem.
ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder)
People with this condition are not interested in food or they avoid foods altogether. They will either lose a lot of weight or they will not gain the expected amount of weight. Such people are not afraid of weight gain and they don’t suffer from a poor body image. Usually the smell, taste, texture, or colour of food act as a turn off.
If you have this disorder, you are probably not getting enough vitamins, minerals and proteins through your diet. Children will experience poor growth. In severe cases, patients may require tube feeding and nutrition supplements. Anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder is very common as is attention deficit disorder.
If you have any kind of eating disorder, it is best to seek professional help immediately. Usually, a team of doctor, dietitian and therapist work together to treat these disorders. Nutrition counselling is as important as medical care in treating eating disorders. Talk therapy also helps a lot. Medication may be needed to treat binge eating, anxiety, depression or any other associated mental health problems.
The details of the treatment depend on the type of eating disorder and how severe it is. Some people are hospitalized because of extreme weight loss and medical complications.
Published: August 14, 2019 8:12 pm | Updated:August 14, 2019 8:16 pm