Society has become increasingly obsessed with weight and physical appearance, and many people have tried some kind of diet at one time or another. But there’s a big difference between “normal” dieting and eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
A person with anorexia is significantly underweight but still worries about being or becoming fat. In contrast, a person with bulimia is often a normal weight for their age and height, so those closest to them may not realize that anything is wrong.
Eating disorders can cause serious, and potentially fatal, medical problems that affect the heart, brain, and other body organs. It is important to know that men can have these disorders too, although they are much more common in women.
Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders
- Weighing 15% or more below normal body weight
- Weight loss, sometimes by means of self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives or diuretics, or excessive exercise
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Seeing oneself as overweight no matter how underweight
- Anxious or ritualistic behavior at mealtimes
- Menstrual changes or the absence of menstruation in women
- Repeatedly eating larger than normal amounts of food in a short period of time and feeling unable to control this behavior (binging)
- Preventing weight gain after a binge by means of self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives or enemas (purging), fasting or excessive exercise
- Unhealthy focus on body shape and weight
- Discolored teeth and gums
- 20% (mild) to over 100% (severe) over normal weight for body type
- More than 100% over normal body weight carries the most severe health risk, i.e., increased need for insulin (may lead to diabetes), breathing problems due to abdominal fat pressing up against the diaphragm, stress on joints and muscles, high blood pressure and heart disease
Reasons for obesity not related to overeating include metabolic disorders, endocrine and hormonal disorders, genetics and environment.
Questions for Eating Disorders
- Have you recently been losing much weight due to not eating, over-exercising, or purging?
- Do you have much fear about gaining weight?
- Do you view yourself as fat even though you may be underweight?
- Have you recently engaged in episodes of binging a large amount of food?
- Are you obsessed with your caloric intake?
- Does the thought of food or gaining weight seem to control you?
If you answered three or more questions above, then it is recommended that you come into Student Counseling Services.