Heterosexual females are often the first (and sometimes only) group associated with eating disorders. This is in part due to the media’s portrayal of eating disorders and the disproportionate focus on heterosexual women in research in the past, as well as the disproportionate focus on women in diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. One study comparing the same four groups used in this paper found that heterosexual women were the group that experienced the highest body dissatisfaction as indicated in a multi-part self-report test (Siever, 1994). Additionally, heterosexual women had the mean highest scores in all of the self-report tests except for one, with which there was not a significant difference between the heterosexual females and the gay males (Siever, 1994). When the study determined how many participants would be considered to have clinical level eating disorders, 13.8% of the heterosexual females within this study (eight out of 62) would qualify (Siever, 1994).
There are two main types of eating disorders, and one that has not yet been confirmed as a disease. These are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge-Eating Disorder. These disorders are not due to a failure of will or behavior, but are real, treatable illnesses in which certain poor patterns of eating take on a life of their own. These disorders usually co-occur with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. Women are more likely to suffer from eating disorders, but they do occur in both sexes.
An eating disorder is defined as "a dangerous and intense striving to become thin (Macionis 350). Even though it has been found that "95% of people who suffer anorexia or bulimia are woman, mostly from white, relatively affluent families" (Macionis 350), "the pre-occupation and obsession with food are not limited to women" (Meadow 24). Although some men also deal with eating disorders, most research has been done on women. In 1985, 95% of women felt they were overweight, while only 25% were actually considered medically overweight (Marshall 124). By the age of thirteen approximately 53% of females are unhappy with their bodies, and by the age of eighteen approximately 78% are unhappy (Marshall 124).
Although there appear to be more similarities than differences between males and females with eating disorders, much can be learned from the differences between the two groups. Gender differences that have emerged in some studies of patients with eating disorders include a higher incidence of homosexuality among males with eating disorders. Extreme pressure to be thin may alone be strong enough to precipitate development of eating disorders. Such added attention to weight and body fat and pressure to diet might be environmental pressures experienced by obese males. (Braun http://www.medscape.com).
Eating disorders mainly appear during adolescence and early adulthood and affect women and girls much more than males. Eating disorders are not self-inflicted diseases, but real illnesses with biological and psychological causes. They often co-exist with other disorders such as depression and substance abuse and can lead to a number of other health complications such as kidney failure, heart problems and even death. Eating disorders are complex conditions that come about from a combination of biological, emotional, behavioral, psychological and social factors. While they may start with a preoccupation with food and weight and body image issues, they are much deeper than that.
Chemical balances in the brain that may also result in depression, obsessive compulsive disorders, and bi-polar disorders may also cause some eating disorders. Other causes may be emotional events, illnesses, marital or family problems, manic depression, or ending a relationship. Over eight million Americans suffer from eating disorders. Over 80% of girls under age thirteen admit to dieting, one of the main factors linked to eating disorders. Although eating disorders are mainly found in middle- to upper class, highly educated, Caucasian, female adolescents, no culture or age group is immune to them (EDA HP, n.p.).
The majority of people suffering from eating disorders are female; however males can also be affected. Males are the exception to the rule when it comes to binge-eating disorder; it appears almost as many males as females are affected (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014). Eating disorders are usually diagnosed in adolescence (Newman & Newman 2012). Eating disorder detection has a broad age range, however most are between ages eleven and twenty (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014). Breaking Down Disorders Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by a strong desire to lose, or not to gain weight through starvation.
Although eating disorders afflict women much more often than they do men, it is estimated that about one million American men suffer from either anorexia or bulimia, and millions more have binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders are much more prevalent in industrialized countries. According to the American Psychiatric Association, eating disorders are most common in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa. Americans today live in a fat-phobic society where, from a very early age, girls are raised to think that thin is better. The famous writer and theater critic Dorothy Parker once said, "no woman can be too rich or too thin," words that quickly became a catchphrase still used today.
The underlying issues of the disorder must be dealt with even if one is already eating normally (http://www.mirror-miror.org/symptoms.htm). Eating disorders can be overcome if the person suffering from it seeks the needed help, since most people will not admit to the problem, either because they believe they do not have a problem or because they are too afraid to admit it. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are now being treated for serious disorders, but compulsive overeating is still not being classified as a serious disorder. These three disorders combined are taking their toll on people of all ages and their families. Bibliography: .
They are directly connected to pubertal maturation and the increases in body fat that... ... middle of paper ... ...hing else, we need to find compassion and understanding for the victims of eating disorders. While we work on helping these individuals, we must also fight the social forces that objectify and exploit female body image to the disadvantage of not only women, but of all humanity. No one profits if one half of the human race is being held under attack by socially constructed body images that are rooted in morbid intent and infantile fantasy. Bibliography Attie, Ilana and Brooks-Gunn, J. "Development of Eating Problems in Adolescent Girls: A Longitudinal Study," Developmental Psychology, 1989, vol.