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As a public health major i have come to realize the importance of exercise.  It helps to prevent so many chronic diseases, and can also help with depression and eating disorders.  I read an article recently about a woman who feels that exercise has helped her to overcome her eating disorder.  I also read another article that stated the exact opposite.  What do you think?  Take the Poll!

Getting involved

I read a sad article today about an eating disorder treatment center in New York that is shutting down because of lack of funding.  While there are some discrepancies about why the center has closed, the owner states that the lack of support from the medical community where he lives is the main cause. All of the people who were going to the center for treatment are now left alone during a particularly difficult time of year for eating disorder sufferers, Christmas.

While it might not be practical for everyone to get involved with this particular clinic, there are many opportunities to help through donations, service, and fund raising.   The National Eating Disorders Association’s website provides a multitude of options for donations.

If you are able to support this cause through donations or even by helping a friend who has an eating disorder then i encourage you to do it.  You really can make a difference in someone’s life.

Since many college students will experience pregnancy during their years in college, i thought that it would be beneficial to talk about eating disorders during pregnancy.  Obviously, there are serious health risk for a person with an eating disorder, but what about the unborn child that they are carrying?  ABC recently did  a special on this very issue.  Also i wanted to include this video from ThePregnancyShow.com that gives some information about pregnancy and eating disorders.

I just wanted to talk about some of the problems associated with eating disorders.  I feel like some people really don’t understand that there are a multitude of conditions and problems associated with these disorders.  Here is some information that i found on the Utah State University website:

Anorexia

  • Heart disease: Anorexia can cause irregular heart rhythms and result in smaller heart muscles. Heart disease is a common cause of death for people with anorexia.
  • Hormonal changes: Changes in reproductive hormones and in thyroid hormones can cause absence of menstruation (amenorrhea), infertility, bone loss and retarded growth.
  • Imbalance of minerals and electrolytes: Your body needs adequate levels of minerals, particularly calcium and potassium, in order to maintain the electric currents that keep your heart beating. Disruption of your body’s levels of fluids and minerals creates an electrolyte imbalance. Unless restored, this imbalance can be life-threatening.
  • Nerve damage: Anorexia may cause brain and nerve damage, seizures and loss of feeling.
  • Blood disorders: Lack of nutrition can reduce your body’s levels of vitamin B-12, causing anemia and affecting your body’s ability to produce enough red blood cells.
  • Digestive problems: Anorexia can cause constipation and bloating.

Bulimia

  • Teeth and gum problems: The presence of gastic acid in your mouth from regular vomiting may cause damage to your teeth and gums.
  • Low potassium levels: The purging process tends to make your body dehydrated and to lower the level of potassium in your blood. This can cause weakness and irregular heart rhythms.
  • Digestive problems: Purging may cause irritation to the walls of your esophagus. Repeated purging may also cause constipation.
  • Behavioral and emotional problems: Bulimia may lead to depression and can be associated with a variety of impulsive behaviors such as sexual promiscuity, stealing, alcohol abuse and drug abuse.
  • Abuse of medications: The variety of over-the-counter drugs you may use during purge cycles may cause a drug dependency. These include laxatives, diuretics, appetite suppressants and ipecac, a drug that induces vomiting.

Binge Eating Disorder

  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease

I also found a great site for parents and younger teens and  children that talks about eating disorders.

Although eating disorders are much more common among females, many males suffer from them as well.  What are some of the reasons for males developing eating disorders?  Are they the same reasons that women have?  Are males influenced more by the media or by their peers?  I have linked to a video about male eating disorders, it is a public service announcement.  Also, take a look at some of the other videos on Youtube about male body image and eating disorders.  Just as females are bombarded by photos of thin women, males are often bombarded by photos of men who are very muscular and lean.

Super Model Behavior

I saw this news article recently and found it to be very interesting.  Kate Moss is one of the most well known models in the world right now, and perhaps does not realize that her words can do damage to those who are struggling with eating disorders.  This is a major problem facing people who have eating disorders.  Constantly seeing models and actresses and actors talking about being skinny and promoting “fad” diets can have a devastating effect on a person’s ability to overcome their disorder.  It can also lead those who do not currently have an eating disorder to develop one.  I am not saying that individuals do not have responsibility for their own actions, but when a person is in the public spotlight they should be more conscious about what they say.

Having said all of that, lets look at the other side of the coin.  Celebrities are under constant pressure to be fit and skinny.  This site has a gallery of photos taken by paparazzi of celebrities working out.  Read the description under the first photo.  Many celebrities have been berated by the media for gaining weight.

Not to put a damper on this holiday season, but I recently read a news article talking about how holidays can increase anxiety and trigger a relapse for people trying to overcome eating disorders.  They have some suggestions that can be helpful to avoid these holiday relapses and for more information here is another site that has some great information on overcoming eating disorders.

So, remember this holiday season to help someone you know who has/had an eating disorder to enjoy the holidays and feel good about enjoying dinner with family and friends!

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