Eating disorders are complex, and potentially fatal conditions that can have serious consequences for general health, professional productivity, and personal relationships.
Anorexia Nervosa – an intense fear of getting fat that causes the person to not eat, even though she may become too thin. One out of every five people with anorexia eventually die from causes related to the disease.
We often hear about the epidemic of obesity and the health consequences of over-eating, but the perils of anorexia and bulimia are less recognized.
Thus, a recent study states that hospitalizations for eating disorders in children under 12 years old increased by a staggering 119 percent between 1999 and 2006. Nonetheless, there are many Eating Disorders Clinics and Hospitals around the country that deal specifically with these disorders. Eating disorders affect both genders, although rates among women and girls are 2? times greater than among men and boys. A person with an eating disorder may start out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food, but at some point, their urge to eat less or more spirals out of control. By age 6, girls especially, start to express concerns about their own weight or shape, and 40-60% of elementary school girls, ages 6-12, are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.


In addition, the rates of suicide among people who suffer from eating disorders are higher than the rates among other psychiatric disorders, largely because anorexia is often accompanied by depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. And the lifetime rate among women for binge eating disorder was 3.5 compared to 2 percent among men.
On a recent trip to China, when I asked mental health officials about their number one concern, in both Beijing and Shanghai, I heard about anorexia nervosa. Traditionally, anorexia in adolescents has been viewed as a “family systems” problem requiring a “parentectomy” — exclusion of the parents or caregivers from the teen’s treatment plan.
That’s often because of two things: first, those with eating disorders often hide their condition for years before it is discovered, and even then, eating disorders are difficult to diagnose.
Their treatments range from partial hospital and day treatments, to full hospitalization with daily psychiatric and Clinical Social Worker and Dietician and weight monitoring. They are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health. A 2003 study found that people with anorexia are 56 times more likely to take their own lives than people who don’t suffer from an eating disorder. But research at the Maudsley Hospital in London, which was replicated in the United States by Le Grange and Lock, has shown that outcomes appear much better if parents are empowered and included, rather than excluded, from the treatment.


Then, insurers don’t always cover the wide range of mental health treatments that can be necessary to address these problems.
What these professionals do is work with patients as they discover the root systems of their attitudes toward food, nurturance, creating a different sense of self toward the meaning of food, weight, inner balance and outward appearance. And according to the most recent statistics, women have these disorders twice as often as men. A full 95 percent of the Americans who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, and the majority of those people report that their unhealthy relationship with food began before they turned 20. And finally, the root systems are complex for understanding these disorders, and research funding is limited. The National Institute of Health (NIH) allocates just 93 cents in research funding per affected eating disorder patient, compared to $88 per affected autism patient and $81 per affected schizophrenia patient.



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