I am a seventh grader in Massachusetts doing a report for science on anorexia/bulimia. Part of this assignment is to interview a patient or medical worker involved with these disorders. If you could, I would like you to take some time to answer the following questions on these diseases.
- Can anorexia/bulimia be spread genetically?
- What is one form of treatment?
- How long does the treatment last?
- Are there any related disorders to anorexia/bulimia?
- Is there any way of preventing anorexia/bulimia?
- Are anorexics/bulimics always thin or can they maintain a normal weight?
- Can you carry on your daily routine if you suffer from anorexia/bulimia?
I appreciate any time you can give to answering these questions.
- Can anorexia/bulimia be spread genetically? It has not been proven that eating disorders can be spread genetically. However, one could not rule out the possibility of eating disorders spreading because of family issues like focusing on body image, weight, and dieting. The issue in eating disorders is psychological. Food is a symptom, not the cause.
- What is one form of treatment? A psychologist or psychiatrist using specific diagnostic criteria first determines if the person has an eating disorder. Treatment may take place at home or in the hospital and which depends on several factors. If the person’s weight or blood electrolytes (sodium and potassium in particular) are life-threateningly low, a person may be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids to correct blood abnormalities. Then, a treatment plan including moderate weight gain goals for persons with anorexia and reduction in binge/vomiting incidents per day by persons with bulimia is started. The person’s family should be involved in treatment. A Registered Dietitian should be involved to advise and direct the appropriate nutrition therapy to support weight or eating goals.
- How long does the treatment last? Treatment length depends on how long the person with anorexia/bulimia has had abnormal eating patterns. Generally, the longer an eating disorder has existed, the longer the treatment. It would not be unusual for treatment to last 6 to 12 months.
- Are there any related disorders to anorexia/bulimia? There are several related eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, body image distortion, body dysmorphia, disordered eating and night eating syndrome. Some consider persons obsessed with food or extremely overweight to have a type of eating disorder.
- Is there any way of preventing anorexia/bulimia? There is no known prevention for eating disorders. Symptoms such as not eating in front of anyone else, vomiting frequently, obsessing about body weight, compulsive exercising or looking very underweight should trigger family/friends to express their health concern and support treatment. You can tell a person with anorexia “You don’t look healthy. If you want, I will go with you to see a doctor.” A person can have anorexia or bulimia or anorexia/bulimia.
- Are anorexics/bulimics always thin or can they maintain a normal weight? People with anorexia are typically more than 10% under their healthy body weight. For instance, if you should weigh 120 pounds and you weight less than 108 pounds, you are at an unhealthy weight. Persons with bulimia, on the other hand, are usually normal weight to slightly overweight. You may notice puffiness in their cheeks if they are vomiting frequently which also erodes the enamel on their teeth.
- Can you carry on your daily routine if you suffer from anorexia/bulimia? People with anorexia carry on their daily routine with almost regimented regularity. They can be obsessive about exercising more than the normal 60 minutes recommended for people who are overweight. Exercise for people with anorexia is a method along with laxative use to control or lower their weight. They may wear layers of clothes due to low body fat and these extra layers of clothes help hide their low weight. People with bulimia spend a great deal of their day thinking about food i.e. how to get it, how to eat it or vomit without anyone watching. They don’t have time for much else. An eating disorder takes a lot of one’s time thinking about food, which can be disruptive to a healthy life. While you need to eat to live, there is more to life than thinking about food.