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Eating Disorders

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How does the media contribute to eating disorders? Eating disorders have become more popular over the last few years but there is no single cause for them. One of the growing causes of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, is believed to be the media.

The influence of the media on eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa cannot be opposed. From an early age we are bombarded with images and messages that reinforce the idea that to be happy and successful we must be thin. It is nearly impossible to open a newspaper or magazine, listen to the radio, shop at a mall or turn on a TV without being confronted with the message that to be fat is to be unwanted. The most frightening part is that this destructive message is reaching kids and teenagers. When adolescents feel as though their weight, hips or thighs don't match up to those of supermodels and actors, they feel flawed. Sadly, even children of elementary school age are obsessing over their weight. If you tried and name five current female television stars who are overweight compared to naming five who are underweight or at ideal weight. Even if the argument is made that the media's representation of women is just a mirror of society and not provoking, the media still needs to take responsibility for at least maintaining the terrible message.

One eating disorder that is becoming more popular is anorexia nervosa- simply known as anorexia. Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by the restriction of food and the refusal to maintain a minimal healthy body weight. Individuals with anorexia often restrict their food intake in order to lose weight, though other methods of weight loss are often used as well. Individuals suffering with anorexia might start by limiting or excluding food from their diet that they deem to be high in fat or calorie content. Once the eating disorder takes hold, the individual usually adopts an extremely restrictive diet.

Another eating disorder that people are turning to is bulimia nervosa, or bulimia. Bulimia is a deadly eating disorder characterized by a devastating cycle of binge eating, purging and other behaviors in order to lose weight and prevent weight gain. Individuals with bulimia often view binge eating as a reward within itself and a way to cope with the uncomfortable feelings and the stress of daily life. When bulimics engage in a binge, it usually involves consuming larger than average amounts of food. The food consumed is typically high in calories and fat.

People turn to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia for many different reasons. Eating disorders are complex diseases and not just a condition that can be treated with willpower. They meet the definition of a disease because they have a particular destructive process for an individual, with a particular cause and display a set of characteristic symptoms. Eating disorders are all



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