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All About Body Image and Eating Disorders

This is a discussion on All About Body Image and Eating Disorders within the Weight Loss forums, part of the Health | Fitness category; All About Body Image and Eating Disorders Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images A growing issue among women of ...

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Old 10-02-2011
Neeshu
 
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All About Body Image and Eating Disorders



Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images



A growing issue among women of all age groups is various types of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. From an average body-conscious teenage girl to a working professional; almost everyone is obsessed with their perception of an ideal body image. This can be attributed, in part, to the growing influence of advertising campaigns in our daily lives. Researchers have identified that this undue pressure to constantly focus on appearance has led to the surge of a number of eating disorders. This can be hazardous – particularly keeping in mind the current notion of a perfect female body figure. Today, many women resort to unhealthy weight-control habits driven by their grossly inaccurate perceptions of their body image. Let’s check out how and why…

Body Image: How many times in the day do you fret about your looks and how you feel about what other people think when they see you? For many, these two questions determine their level of confidence and self-esteem. Broadly, body image is an individual’s perception about the sexual attractiveness of his or her body. Though, a psychological perception, a distorted body image can greatly hamper the normal way of living.

Primary Factors Affecting Body Image Perception:
To understand more about the impact of a distorted body image and its association with adverse eating habits, it is a must to understand the basic factors influencing it.
  1. Societal Pressures: To a great extent, perceptions about the ideal body image are influenced by societal pressures. By societal pressures, we refer to the societal expectations about women’s roles, perceived pressure for a thin body and pressure exerted by a peer group or colleagues.
  2. Personal Factors: This includes factors like dissatisfaction about one’s body image, dieting history and life events. Sometimes, even an episode of abuse or trauma can lead to a distorted body image. Hence, while considering the factors, a multi-dimensional view should be used. Apart from this, a familial history of weight issues can also predispose a person to adopt an altered body image perception.
  3. Cognitive Factors: Sometimes, an altered perception of one’s body image may also arise due to an inherent need for acceptance or self-evaluation of achievement. You may also have sub-consciously developed some standards of self–worth or followed the ideals of perfectionism. Such poor cognitive awareness standards may also predispose a person to develop eating disorders.
Common Eating Disorders: All the above factors, singly or in combination, may trigger an eating disorder in a person. Highly misdiagnosed and misunderstood, these disorders are regarded as complex and chronic disorders that need to be taken seriously to avoid further health complications.
  • Anorexia Nervosa: One of the most hazardous eating disorders, Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by starvation, including little or no food. People with this condition have an obsessive fear about gaining weight and have highly unrealistic body image perceptions. Anorexics can do just about anything to be extremely thin – from over-exercising to complete starvation. If not controlled in time, this condition can affect your skin health, bone growth and even cause your menstruation to stop. Such individuals are also at a greater risk of developing heart failure and other cardiac problems. A number of international celebrities and fashionistas have struggled with the condition including Alanis Morissette and Geri Halliwell.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: One of the classic characteristic of this eating disorder is forcing oneself to vomit after consuming very high quantities of food. People with this condition may also resort to strenuous exercise habits and fasting to help their body get rid of what they ate. Such people usually suffer from signs of clinical depression, stress and other obsessive-compulsive disorders. A differentiating characteristic of bulimia from anorexia is that unlike the latter, patients with bulimia can maintain a normal to above normal body weight and hence can hide their condition from others for years.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: A very common form of eating disorder seen especially in women, Binge is characterized by an urge to eat unusually large amounts of food. However, unlike bulimia, this condition is not associated with purging or vomiting. Also, such people usually tend to eat more fats and sugars rather than essential nutrients. Following an episode of overeating, these individuals often feel embarrassed, guilty and disgusted about their habits.
  • Orthorexia Nervosa: In this condition, individuals are obsessed about following a “pure diet” in such a way that it affects the person’s daily way of living.
Source: Eating Disorders guide, Body Image report
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