Ashley Gibbons, former MU Extension Dietetic Intern & Candance Gabel, MS, RD, LD, University of Missouri Extension
We live in a culture saturated with unrealistic messages about body image. Americans are almost desensitized to the word “diet” because of the overwhelming amount of diet plans currently on the market. The diet-related industry is a 50 billion dollar a year enterprise. Unfortunately, 80 percent of American women claim to be dissatisfied with their appearance and shape. In addition, 1 in 2 Americans are on a weight-loss diet. The most common behavior that will lead to an eating disorder is dieting.
Eating disorders, like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder, include extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are widespread and affect people of all ages and sexes — about 9,000,000 Americans suffer from one. Eating disorders are not just a fad or a phase, they are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health.
It’s important to avoid thinking of eating disorders in simplistic terms, like “anorexia is just a plea for attention,” or “bulimia is just an addiction to food.” Eating disorders arise from a variety of physical, emotional, social and familial issues, all of which need to be addressed for effective prevention and treatment.
For more information about the different types of eating disorders and recovery, see the full version of this article at http://missourifamilies.org/