February 24-March 1 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Read about the different types of these disorders and how they affect black men and women.
What are eating disorders? Eating disorders are a range of illnesses that impact the way that you eat—from eating too little or eating way too much—that have serious repercussions to your physical and emotional health, according to the National Institutes of Health. The most common include bulimia, anorexia and binge eating.
What causes them? Eating disorders are much more complex than having low-self esteem or poor body image. Doctors believe that they are a result of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological and social factors that interact with one other. However, more research needs to be done.
How common are they? It’s estimated that 24 million people suffer from an eating disorder, says the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Fifty percent of people with eating disorders are considered depressed, and eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness. However only 1 in 10 with this problem receive treatment.
Do black girls get eating disorders? Having an eating disorder ain’t just a white thing. A 2009 study found that not only were African American girls 50 percent more likely than white girls to be bulimic, but that socioeconomic status was not a factor in developing these disorders. Girls from the lowest income bracket were 153 percent more likely to be bulimic than their richer counterparts.
Can men suffer from these disorders? Yes they can. Contrary to popular belief, no one is exempt from eating disorders. A recent study found that 17.9 percent of boys and male teens were extremely concerned with their weight and body image. Also, these boys were more at risk for engaging in binge drinking and drug use.
What is anorexia nervosa? Anorexia is a deadly disorder where no matter how thin someone is, it’s just not enough. A person with anorexia refuses to maintain a healthy body weight; has an intense fear of gaining weight; and has a distorted body image that does not reflect reality. Complications include reproductive and thyroid abnormalities; anemia; heart problems, bone density loss, neurological problems and, in some cases, death.
What is binge eating? Binge eating, the most common eating disorder among adults, is the act of consuming a large amount of food in a short period of time. This affects 3.5 percent of women, 2 percent of men and 1.6 percent of teens and kids, according to the National Institutes of Health. Complications include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, gallbladder disease and high blood pressure.
What is bulimia? Bulimia, an illness that singer and actress Brandy once had, is when a person binges on food or has regular episodes of overeating. Then they use different methods—such as vomiting or abusing laxatives— to prevent weight gain from eating so much. Complications include constipation, dehydration, cavities, hemorrhoids, pancreatitis and tears in the esophagus.