Eating Disorders

Term Paper, 2002

10 Pages, Grade: 1.7 (A-)



1. Introduction

2. What is an eating disorder?

3. Who gets an eating disorder?

4. Several kinds of eating disorders
4.1 Anorexia nervosa
4.2 Bulimia nervosa
4.3 Binge eating/ Compulsive overeating

5. Treatment

6. Snack time before and after meals: A habit that can lead to eating disorders

7. Literature

1. Introduction

Not much is known about how many men and women are suffering from eating disorders. However careful estimations are suggesting that about one percent of the girls aged between 12 and 20 are suffering from anorexia nervosa and about 3,5 percent of the 15 to 35 year old females from bulimia nervosa. Approximately 20 percent of the women up to 35 years of age are overweight, how many of these are suffering from an eating disorder remains unknown. Also young men are affected more and more. About 1,1 percent of the men aged between 14 and 24 have suffered from an eating disorder (Barmer).

An eating disorder is a serious illness. In this essay I would like to give a short overview over the main types of eating disorders, what disorders are, how they develop and what can be done to help sufferers. Additionally I would like to discuss a little study about eating habits and the effects done by an American college student.

2. What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorder as the word tells us is a disturbed and abnormal eating behaviour. But what is normal? Normal eating habits: food intake is regulated through appetite, hunger and satiety, this guarantees that the right amount of nutrients for a certain body is being taken in (Barmer).

„In some cases, the concern about being thin may be so extreme that it leads to certain eating disorders whose health hazards are much more serious than those produced by being somewhat overweight.“ (Gleitman 1991).

„Eating disorders develop as outward signs of inner emotional or psychological distress or problems. They become the way that people cope with difficulties in their life. Eating, or not eating, is used to help block out painful feelings. Without appropriate help and treatment, eating problems may persist throughout life.“(

Eating disorders are complex illnesses with disturbed eating patterns and psychological problems. Both aspects need to be treated. The eating pattern needs to be restored and a balanced diet has to be introduced. Besides that reasons for developing this disorder have to be found and treated.

3. Who gets an eating disorder?

Anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of age, race, gender or background. However, young women (especially between the ages of 15 to 25 years) are most likely to do so. Traumatic events can trigger anorexia or bulimia nervosa: the loss of a loved one, being bullied or abused, problems in the family (such as divorce) or concerns over being gay or lesbian. Someone with another long-term illness or disability - for instance, diabetes, manic depression or deafness - may also experience eating problems ( Eating disorders are mostly caused by diets but they are always a sign of deep emotional distress and far-reaching personal problems. Eating disorders are often connected with drug abuse (Barmer).

Although research suggests, that a person's genetic make up may make them more likely to develop an eating disorder it is sure that it can never be genetics alone. There is never one single reason but rather the combination of social, environmental and biological factors. The most important I would like to mention here.

- Self esteem

One characteristic all sufferers of an eating disorder have in common is their low self esteem. They feel that their life could be better if they could just lose weight.

- Society

Many people see the media as a main reason for developing an eating disorder. The media does contribute to dieting and weight discrimination by giving us certain images and selling us every diet as the solution to all our problems but the media doesn’t cause every media-consuming person to develop an eating disorder. So it is a lot more complex than blaming the media.

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Barbie-type dolls have often be blamed on playing a role in the development of body- image problems and eating disorders. Not only are these dolls super slim and well proportioned but they also make especially children believe that materialistic possessions, beauty and thinness equate happiness.

Society and culture

In addition to the media, part of the societal problems are a result of lack of education. Children need to be taught how their body changes when they get older and that they should accept their body. A lot of problems are caused by the family itself. Adults especially women lay a lot of emphasis on how they look. Phrases like, "do I look fat in this?", „you have gained/lost weight“ and so on are used constantly. Children also have to be taught about exercise. It should be part of their life, fun and not exhausting work outs.

Specific Groups in Society

Certain groups in society are at high risk of developing an eating disorder. Ballet dancers, dancers, figure skaters and gymnasts are for instance at high risk because all of them would like to or feel they have to maitain a slim figure to be successful in the competition. Beyond that they spend hours exercising and rehearsing.


Excerpt out of 10 pages


Eating Disorders
University of Applied Sciences Wernigerode  (Economics)
1.7 (A-)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
437 KB
Eating, Disorders
Quote paper
Thomas Kuthe (Author), 2002, Eating Disorders, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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