Health Watch out for the signs of an eating disorder
Continual weight loss and a false self-image of being too fat are the main warning signs of an eating disorder, according to the German Society of Psychosomatic Medicine and Medical Psychotherapy (DGPM).
The DGPM said weight loss in a child or adolescent had reached a critical stage if more than 90 per cent of the affected person's peers weighed more. A chronic eating disorder can be life-threatening.
Primarily girls and young women are susceptible to the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, the DGPM noted, adding that televised talent shows may fuel the desire to be thin. A study by the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television (IZI), found that many female adolescents who watched television shows of this kind were dissatisfied with their body and felt they were too fat.
Anorexics largely refrain from eating, induce themselves to vomit, exercise excessively or take laxatives. Bulimia nervosa is characterised by a vicious circle of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting and fasting. Both eating disorders can have severe physical and emotional consequences, the DGPM said. Anorexia nervosa, for example, is detrimental to bone density, growth and brain maturation.
Treatment of eating disorders is lengthy and often requires hospitalisation, the DGPM added. It particularly recommends psychotherapy, which aims to teach the patient to eat normally again and solve the problems underlying the disorder. According to the DGPM, about 12 per cent of female anorexics die of the disorder and only half are eventually cured.