What is Anorexia?

Essay by SofTbaLLJaMiE11High School, 10th gradeA+, November 2003

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Anorexia nervosa is a disease that one percent of female adolescents in the United States have. Though most people that have anorexia are young women between ten and twenty years old, older and younger people have this disease, and a few men have this disease, but it is not as common. Ten percent of people with anorexia are men, the other ninety percent are women. Anorexia is a serious eating disorder in which a person refuses to eat enough food to maintain a minimum normal body weight. This person weighs eighty-five percent or less than the average weight of a person that age and height. The anorexic person denies that low weight can be dangerous. He or she is terrified of being or getting fat, even though they are very underweight, and is always thinks they are fat.

The main cause of anorexia is the pressures from society to be thin.

They see models and actresses that are really skinny and think that they need to be that skinny to be happy. Also they see their friends that are really thin and they want to be like that person. Also, little girls play with their Barbies, and see how skinny they are and think that is what they should look like when they grow up, so they start with the diets when they are really young. As they grow older they eat less and less when they need to be eating more and more. Another cause of anorexia is being too concerned with pleasing others. Anorexics want impress their friends and everybody else around them, like the other people in their school. Also, anorexics have low self-esteem, they don't think they are good enough as they are, so they think they will be better if they were skinnier.

The main symptom of anorexia is extreme loss of weight. They may weigh 85% or less than what is normal for their age and height. Anorexics waste away and can starve to death. They can also die because of the lack of minerals, they don't get the minerals from food that they need to survive. The lack of minerals causes the heart to stop, and the person dies. Other symptoms are that heart rates and breathing rates begin to slow down. Their body temperature decreases, and their skin becomes dry. Also anorexics begin to grow fine hair all over their body. In women, their menstrual periods stop, and in girls, they don't begin to menstruate at a normal age. In men, levels of sex hormones fall. Other symptoms that sometimes occur are depression, irritability, may depend on their family for almost everything, may be afraid to grow up and take adult responsibilities, and may have a low tolerance for change.

There are people to help anorexics, but they can only be successfully treated if the person with the disease and their family cooperate. Anorexics sometimes have to stay at a hospital to get their weight and their eating habits back to normal. Anorexics usually need physical and mental help to be cured of this disease. They need years of treatment from mental help doctors, and councilors with them and their families to help the anorexic. Individual, group, and family therapy is very important.

Twenty percent of anorexics, that don't seek and aren't getting treatment die. But only two or three percent of those getting treatment die. Out of the anorexics that are getting treatment, about sixty percent completely recover. They stay at a healthy, normal weight and don't only eat foods with low calories and no fat. Their relationships with their families and friends improve and they are starting careers. They say that they feel stronger than they would have without the disease.

About twenty percent of anorexics with treatment only partially recover from the disease. They still are too focused on dieting and their weight. They usually have jobs but not careers. They don't have too many friends or relationships. The other twenty percent don't improve, despite treatment. Their lives still revolve around dieting and their weight. They are lonely, depressed, and feel helpless and hopeless.

One of the largest groups of people with anorexia are athletes. Athletes use athletics as an excuse to burn calories or an excuse not to eat. A healthy amount of body fat is about twenty to twenty-two percent, but a lot of female athletes and dancers, along with their coaches want to have ten to fourteen percent body fat at the most. A lot of athletes exercise too much and they become obsess with exercising. The athletes that are at most risk of having an eating disorder were those involved in dance, figure skating, running, swimming, gymnastics, rowing, horse racing, riding, and ski jumping. The NCAA found that ninety-three percent of student athletes that have eating disorders in the last two years were in women's sports. The women's sport with the most cases of eating disorders was in cross-country, then gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. The other seven percent were male student athletes. The sport that had the most cases of male eating disorders was wrestling then cross-country.

Anorexia is a very serious disease that one percent of female adolescence in the United States have. Ten percent of anorexics are men and the other ninety percent are women. Its when a person refuses to eat enough to maintain a minimum normal body weight. They constantly think they are too fat when they really are almost twenty-five percent less than what is normal for their age and height. The cause is mostly because of pressures from society and their peers to be thin. Anorexics are in danger of dying from starving to death, or malnutrition. The lack of minerals can cause the heart to stop and they can die. There are ways that anorexics can get help by getting individual, group, or family therapy. Twenty percent of anorexics without treatment die, while only two or three percent with treatment die. Sixty percent of those with treatment recover completely, twenty percent with treatment partially recover, and even though they are getting treatment, twenty percent don't improve at all. Athletes are one of the largest groups of people with eating disorders. The sport that has the most female student athletes that have eating disorders is cross-country. The sport that has the most male student athletes with eating disorders is wrestling. If you know anyone that has an eating disorder don't push them into doing anything, but they need to get help. You can tell their parents that they might have an eating disorder. An eating disorder is very serious, but if you don't handle it the right way, it could get worse.