The four diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa are as follows: 1. Refusal to maintain 85% of normal body weight as applies to individual height and body size. 2. Intense fear of becoming 'fat' despite the fact that they are underweight. 3. A disturbance in the way in which one's shape and weight are experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation or denial of the seriousness of the low body weight. 4. In females, missing at least three consecutive menstrual cycles. Early symptoms for this disease are sometimes difficult to determine because it generally starts out as innocent dieting. Dieting is very commonplace, especially in the United States, so this is not very suspicious behavior. The dieting, however, evolves into less commonplace activity such as severe decrease in calorie and fat intake, even fasting.
Many times, the subject will exercise relentlessly., somehow maintaining a high energy level despite their near starving state. Though anorexics do not like to eat food, they tend to enjoy preparing elaborate meals for others and sometimes collect recipes and even memorize nutritional facts about foods. Anorexia is also sometimes characterized by bizarre \eating habits, such cases as strange as cutting a raisin in half and chewing each part for two to three minutes have been reported.
As mentioned earlier, one out of every two hundred fifty young women in the United States are affected by anorexia nervosa. It is a disease which is most common in females, but one in twenty cases is estimated to be in a male. Anorexia is most common in North American society. Anorexia is a direct result of family stress and other social pressure. Most anorexics come form middle to upper class families who place a lot of emphasis on achievement, perfection, and especially physical appearance. Parents are often overprotective and overcontrolling, the child seeks a form of control of her own by controlling food intake. Not all of the negative pressure comes from family however. Society in general provides the very impressionable youth with many negative signals by various media. Those on television and in magazines are especially successful at telling the youth that those who are successful are so because they are beautiful, handsome, and thin. This tells the youth that if they are not