Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa
A refusal to eat a balanced diet resulting in a loss of at least 25 percent of body weight is indicative of a mental illness, especially if there is no known physical illness accounting for the inability to maintain a normal weight for height and age. The disorder most often strikes teenage girls who have low self-esteem and an irrational belief that they are fat, regardless of how thin they become. Without treatment, the self-induced starvation can lead to death. 

Another eating disorder primarily affecting girls, bulimia is characterized by a compulsion to binge (eat a large amount of food rapidly, usually in less than two hours) and then to purge (rid oneself of the food) by self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives. Weight can fluctuate by as much as ten pounds during binge-and-purge cycles. Girls who suffer from bulimia are aware that their eating patterns are abnormal and they fear being unable to stop eating voluntarily. Binges are usually followed by a depressed mood and self-disgust. Bulimia leads to dehydration, hormonal imbalance, tooth and gum disease, and the depletion of important minerals, and it can have serious consequences for the adolescentís later physical development.

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