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There are common beliefs that eating disorders are because of lifestyle choices made by a certain individual. However, health studies conducted by different institutions have continued to indicate that eating disorders are actual health problems that have a major disturbance in patients eating habits. Food plays a significant role in human body. Therefore, having eating disorder means that a person is giving the body too much food or inadequate food hence causing an imbalance of the important nutrients in the human body. Some of the behaviors which may signal eating disorder in human beings include obsession to food, the shape of the body and body weight. Binge-eating behavior, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa are some of the common eating disorders depicted in the United States. In the last few years, the problem of eating disorder has been worsening with more and more people facing this problem. Decades ago, the eating disorder was being experienced mostly by teen girls and young adult women. Today, the problem is facing all genders and all ages of United States citizens. The purpose of this paper is to propose ways the United States can diagnose the problem of eating disorder by explaining some of the types of eating disorder, symptoms, and ways the Members of Congress can take action to solve the eating disorder problem in the United States. Members of Congress need to come up with a solution which will help more than million United States citizens from all ages suffering from different eating disorders. Eating disorder is a national problem that is killing us every day.
Eating disorders are defined as any range of psychological disorder which is characterized by disturbed or abnormal eating habit. There are different factors contributing to the rise in some persons with an eating disorder. Firstly, increase in some women with an eating disorder has been associated with issues of self-esteem, over confidence and body image. In the last few decades, United States has experienced significant growth in media and technology (Merikangas p. 11). These development have a major influence on people’s life, and this is seen where some of the pictures used by media even though some are photoshopped are changing the attitude people have toward them self and their body. Hence they start struggling to acquire a certain body image so that they can feel fit in the society (Merikangas p. 16). Additionally, media has increasingly emphasized on the types of clothes that individual need to wear to look good and thus, those whose bodies cannot fit this kind of clothes have generated a different attitude towards eating as a way of reducing or increasing their body size. This has created a serious problem where some are developing psychological problems when trying to change their bodies hence affecting their day to day functions (Merikangas p. 34).
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One of the major eating disorder identified with a huge number of United States citizens is the problem of self-induced vomiting as a way of preventing weight gain. The process of ensuring they have the body size the society term as the best, huge numbers of patients develops the underweight issue. Underweight has major health problems which include anemia, infertility, and low immune because of lack of vitamins and minerals, and osteoporosis (Middleton p. 56). However, despite the risks associated with underweight, people continue to risk due to patients often carrying the mentality that there are some social benefits of looking thin and thus they are worth risking being underweight. This mentality has been emphasized by continued number of advertisement and media preferences of where they tend to like the thin people that the thick people. However, a problem that starts as a mental issue ends up becoming a life threatening issue where some become psychologically impacted by the thought of their body size and end up becoming a serious illness (Middleton p. 3). The society then needs to understand that eating disorders are not an experiment to lose weight or a fad diet, but they are serious disorders that can take the patients years to ill and cost them a huge amount of money in trying to recover.
Research conducted by the Eating Disorder Lobby Group indicated that about 5% of United States women and 1% of United States males are suffering from eating disorder (Middleton p. 87). With the impact eating disorder has on a human being, this means that more that 30 million people in the United States are facing major life threatening issues. In most cases, eating disorder come with other psychiatric issues such as panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, alcohol, and drug abuse problems among other issues (Middleton 108). This creates a need to come up with a permanent solution to help the patients suffering from eating disorder. Effective treatment needs to be established which will treat psychical symptoms and emotional symptoms associated with an eating disorder so that we can have a society with fewer people suffering having psychological problems as a result of eating disorders (Middleton p. 76).
Types and symptoms of eating disorder
There are different types of eating disorder affecting the United States population. Some of the eating disordered includes:
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that makes people see themselves as overweight even when they are dangerously underweight. People with this eating disorder trend to weigh them repeatedly and they tend to severely restrict themselves to eating different types of food or eat a small amount of certain food. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate in the United States among the mental illnesses. The largest population of individuals with this eating disorder tends to die because of famishment, while other dies because of suicide (Setnick p. 4). For women with Anorexia nervosa, suicide is more common than any other mental disorder where they continuously fail to appreciate themselves and eventually lack meaning of living. In their lifetime, 0.9% of the American women suffer from Anorexia nervosa. Among five deaths that occur because of Anorexia nervosa, one is as a result of suicide. However, 50-80% of risks associated with Anorexia nervosa are because of genetic (Setnick p. 6). Other conditions associated with Anorexia nervosa include comorbid mood disorder which affects 33-50% of women suffering from this eating disorder such as depression (Setnick p. 5).
Some of the symptoms associated with the Anorexia nervosa includes: First, extremely restricted eating behavior. A Huge number of patients suffering from Anorexia nervosa tend to starve them even when they have lost huge amounts of weight. Because of extreme starvation, patients suffer from emaciation where they get extremely thin (Setnick p. 4). This is the most visible symptom, and during this time, patients tend to deny the condition. The second symptom of Anorexia nervosa is a persistent quest of slenderness and unwillingness to maintain heavy or even normal weight.
People with Bulimia nervosa eating disorder have frequent and recurrent sessions of consuming an unusual amount of food and feeling as if they are not in control of their eating behaviors during these sections. Because of overeating, the patients end up vomiting fasting, excessive use of diuretics and laxatives and excessive exercise to avoid an increase in their body size (Rhodan p. 3). However, the condition is different from Anorexia nervosa eating disorder because people with Bulimia nervosa tend to maintain the healthy or normal weight. Family members with patients suffering from Bulimia nervosa may not know if the person is suffering from this condition because patients tend to hide the binges. Additionally, the fact that they do not become extremely thin means that people around them may not notice any changes.
Some of the symptoms that the society needs to observe in people suffering from Bulimia nervosa binge include: Firstly, they have swollen salivary glands in jaw and neck area. This may be accompanied by chronically inflamed and sore throats. These symptoms may be seen mostly during the period when they are overeating and disappear after some time (Rhodan p. 5). Secondly, patients with Bulimia nervosa eating disorder tend to have decayed and oversensitive teeth, due to huge amount stomach acid. During this condition, patients tend to produce a significant amount of stomach acids which once the tooth is exposed to it, it causes decay and even increases sensitivity. The third symptom of Bulimia nervosa is increased in acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems. Additionally, most patients develop intestinal distress which is accompanied laxative abuse. These conditions may persist hence more that they usually do (Rhodan p. 6). The last symptom identified in patients suffering from Bulimia nervosa is dehydration which occurs because of purging fluids.
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Currently, the criterions associated with Binge-eating disorder are under investigation or being defined. However, some of the issues that have been identified by researchers on patients suffering from this condition are the patient’s episodes of binge eating where they tend to consume a huge amount of food for a very short period (Streigel-moore p. 56). During this period, patients feel out of control of their eating behavior. However, unlike Bulimia nervosa, patients with this condition do not try to vomit or use other methods to get laid off the huge calories they have consumed. This makes Binge-eating disorder a serious issue in human life where it will first result in changes in body mass and other complex heath conditions such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases (Streigel-moore p. 23). Currently, the United States has depicted Binge-eating as the most common eating disorder. The condition is highly associated with increased body size and is seen by many as the eating disorder with the highest effect on body image.
Some of the symptoms of Binge-eating disorder include: Firstly, taking a huge amount of food at specific period is one of the most common conditions for patients with Binge-eating disorder. The condition worsens, and the patients tend to eat even when they are full. Secondly, patients with Binge-eating disorder tend to eat very fast during the binge episode (Streigel-moore p. 22). In most cases, they eat until even the family members around they realize they are uncomfortable, but they tend to deny it. Lastly, they tend to diet frequently, but they do not experience any weight loss, and thus, they find their body image is ruined.
Risks Associated With Eating Disorder
Eating disorder is a major issue in the modern society. The number of people suffering from this condition is increasing significantly because of social changes being experienced in the modern society. Decades ago, the problem was not severe and the population identified to having this disorder according to the health literature was women during their teen years and young adults (MacDonald p. 5). However, eating disorders have experienced significant increase with the condition being experienced in all ages and genders in the society. The rate of women suffering from eating disorder is about two and a half time that of male, the condition is experiencing significant growth in both genders. The low number of men suffering from eating disorder is attributed to the fact that men have some other conditions such as muscle dysmorphia which is a type of disorder where men are extremely concerned with being masculine (MacDonald p. 6).
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, a complex interaction between psychological, biological, genetic, and social factors are a major cause to eating disorders (MacDonald p. 7). It has been difficult to understand eating disorders because of the continued changes in these conditions. However, researchers have adopted the new technology in efforts of understanding the issue of eating disorder.
The risks associated with an eating disorder need more attention from the society than they are receiving today. Understanding the condition is an important step. For example, eating disorders have a propensity to run in different families (MacDonald p. 9). Therefore, people suffering from these this disorder needs to help the healthcare provider or psychiatrist with his or her family medical history. Through such factors, it will be easy to understand the type of disorder a certain patient is suffering from.
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Solutions for Eating Disorder
An eating disorder is a major problem in the United States society. With the issue becoming complex day by day, there is a need to find a permanent solution to assist people suffering from this problem. Use of medication is one of the solutions being offered by to eating disorder patients currently with some of the medications include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and even mood stabilizers. Patients with an eating disorder need health care support because they take many years to heal. Some of the deaths because of an eating disorder are because of lack of professional care. Treating mood and anxiety which is a common trait in people suffering from eating disorder require expensive health care services. Currently, eating disorders are offered only ten psychological sessions per year by Medicare. The problem is becoming more sensitive, and there is a need to increase these sessions to at least 20 or 30 sessions per year. Additionally, special systems need to be developed to respond to complex mental illnesses such as anorexia which contribute to suicide cases more than any other mental illness. Members of Congress need to pass legislation which will increase not only the number of sessions but also the number of professionals to deal with this disorder.
A significant number of eating disorder patients lack frequent psychological support and nutrition interventions. These are services some of the most expensive health care services in the United States hence a huge number of eating disorder patients mostly teen may lack financial capability to seek for assistance for this condition. Government intervention is required to ensure cost effective services are offered to eating disorder patients. Services such as cognitive behavior therapy would play an important role in this problem, but the government needs to intervene and ensure the services are available and are not expensive. Reducing financial barrier to treatment will encourage more eating disorder patients to seek psychological assistant and seek it early.
The second solution to deal with the eating disorder problem is starting media campaign to create awareness about this condition. A Huge number of patients with this condition lack health literacy hence they fail to access treatment, and they eventually end up committing suicide. Mental health institutions, lobby groups, and the government need to combine efforts and come up with an awareness campaign that will target the teen women and young adult women who are the most affected by this disorder. Through an awareness campaign, the audience will be educated about the symptoms of this disorder, ways of preventing the disorder and some of the most effective treatment they can access to treat their disease. Mostly, patients with an eating disorder seek medical or psychological assistance when the condition is so severe hence treating becomes difficult.
The third solution for eating disorder problem in the United States is making the problem a society problem rather than individual problem. The mean reason teenagers and young adult women develop the eating disorder problem is because they care what the society think about them. Congress need to come up with legislations which will regulate the use of photoshopped and edited images in advertisements that tend to advocate certain body image and rejecting certain body image. Additionally, the legislation needs to ensure the use of people in media advertisements, music videos, and movies that show their curves and thin body is regulated because of the impact it has on the people in the society. The use of these body images in the media has created a perceptive that beautiful is having a thin body. Congress needs to pass this legislation to reduce the burden of mental health care resulting from eating disorder and which will increase in future. According to the Mental Health Institution, the number of United States citizens with an eating disorder may double in the next one decade because social changes which are embracing thinness as beauty.
Lastly, there is a need to use different forms of psychotherapy to deal with the issue of eating disorders. Some of the psychotherapy forms that can be used include groups, family based and other individuals to help deal with any psychological issues arising due to the disorder. Different studies suggest that in order for an anorexia patient to show positive improvement and gain weight within a short period of time, family-based therapy where parents are responsible for nurturing their distressed adolescents is the most effective therapy. Additionally, Members of Congress need to pass some legislation that holds parents responsible for teen suffering from eating disorder. Some of the teen girls suffer from this disorder because their parent fails to offer the right guideline and description of what beauty they and end up imitating the body image being embraced by the media.
Eating disorder is a national problem killing us every day. There are different types of eating disorders such as Anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and Bulimia nervosa; that Members of Congress need to understand to develop a lasting solution to this problem affecting quite a number of people in the United States today. Some of the solutions that can enforce to deal with the issue of eating disorder include offering frequent psychological support and nutrition interventions through Medicare; create awareness about this condition, making the eating disorder a society problem by passing rules and regulations and using different forms of psychotherapy to deal with the issue of eating disorders.
- Kathleen MacDonald. Capitol Hill and Eating Disorders: Does my voice make a difference? , 2014. Retrieved on 13/05/2017 from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/capitol-hill-and-eating-disorders-does-my-voice-make-a-difference
- Maya Rhodan. Lobbyists Push Congress to Curb Misleading Photoshopped Ad, 2014. Retrieved on 13/05/2017 from http://time.com/48853/lobbyists-push-congress-to-curb-misleading-photoshopped-ads/
- Merikangas, K.R., He, J., Burstein, M., Svendsen, J., Avenevoli, S., Case, B., Georgiades, K., et al. Service utilization for lifetime mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results of the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A).” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2011. 50 (1): 32-45.
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- Setnick, Jessica. Ada Pocket Guide to Eating Disorders. Chicago, Ill: American Dietetic Association, 2011. Print.
- Streigel-moore rh, franko Dl. Epidemiology Of Binge Eating Disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 2013; 21: 11-27