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Eating Disorders Studies - What Has Been Found So Far?

Sep 15, 2008
Researching eating disorders is a relatively new field of medicine. Scientists still don't have a lot of data on a long-term recovery process from eating disorders. But many things about who is susceptible to the disease, how it starts and how it develops is known and that is what we will look at here.

According to the latest numbers there are very many people who meet the criteria for disordered eating - about 10%-15% of women. These include all eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and others. The most dangerous of all anorexia nervosa takes about 1%-1.5%. Bulimia nervosa takes about 5%-6% and the rest goes to binge eating, extreme dieting, obsession with body image etc.

More than half the women who have been anorexic will develop bulimia in the process of the disease. And nearly 80% of bulimics show anorexic behaviors also. To say in other words they swing between non-eating to compulsive overeating and purging all the time during the disease.

And the only dividing line between anorexia and bulimia is their weight. People with extremely low weight are considered to be anorexic. And people with normal weight or slightly overweight considered to be bulimics.

Recent studies have also found that women are prone to the disease much more then men are. Genetic predisposition to develop an eating disorder is also confirmed by many researches.

It was said that people inherit a special gene which is responsible for developing addictive (obsessive) behaviors.

It was also shown that people with certain personality traits are also more prone to eating disorders. These personality traits include perfectionism, avoidance of harm and impulsivity (or difficulty in impulse control). Low self-esteem is a common trait. And they all are prone to attach too much importance on weight and body image.

The drive to thinness is broadly influence by the media. When women with certain personality traits and genetic make up are constantly exposed to images of waif-like models, slim actresses and stunning beauty icons they inevitably want to be like them.

When all the factors above converge in one person, she/he can develop an eating disorder.

To conclude, eating disorders are multiple -factor disorders. It takes a special genetic make up, special social influences and personality to develop the disease.

These complexities make the disease very difficult to treat and manage. Nevertheless, there are many cases of recovery from eating disorders and generally the disease is considered to be treatable.
About the Author
Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program. She is a recognised athority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker. To learn more about new eating disorders treatment studies go to http://www.eatingdisorder-cure.com
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