Lisa looks at herself in the mirror. She turns around and takes a good look at herself. She is thinking: “ How can everyone else be so skinny while I am so fat? “. In fact Lisa is a high school student. Lately her situation has been worsening. Not only does she feel guilty when she eats, but she also purges it up when she is finished. This can be the beginning of an eating disorder called Bulimia nervosa. Eating disorders are amongst the most common psychiatric syndromes, and leads to most treatment seeking, inpatient hospitalisation, suicide attempts and mortality (Stice 2002). This essay will point out the most significant risk factors for Bulimia nervosa and Anorexia nervosa and the most common methods for treatment and prevention of these factors.
The diagnoses for the diseases Anorexia nervosa (AN) and Bulimia nervosa (BN) are different. However, they are very similar and share many common risk factors with a few variations. Furthermore, the patients are moving frequently between the disorders (Fariburn and Harrison 2003). As a result of this, and for the simplicity and the required length for this essay. I will address them both as only eating disorders and allocate the risk factors to both AN and BN. In addition, this essay will be organised by presenting the most common risk factors followed by how they can be prevented and treated.
Fariburn and Harrison (2003) along with most researchers advocate that being a female is the most important risk factor concerning eating disorder. Among those who have eating disorder are 90% females. The next significant factor is the age adolescence and early adulthood (Fariburn and Harrison 2003). These are both very significant factors and have also led to the fact that the majority of the research reports only target the female population in adolescence. For example, Piran in his longitude research study targets ballet schools in which over 90% of the students are young females (Piran 1999). There also exist several other research reports that target female’s only, in high schools or similar institutions. This is essential to keep in mind when I will present the other risk factors that are extracted from research studies targeting females in adolescence or areas where this demographic group is in majority.
The media play an important part in creating an image of the “perfect slim body”. Adolescences are very sensitive to their own body image and easily perceive the body image media create. They can easily associate this image as a significant factor for success in dating and other general achievements in life. Furthermore, the adolescences are likely to feel unsatisfactory with their own body and therefore seek methods to live up to their ideals presented by the media. Tomori and Rus-Makovec (2000) did an interesting research including 4700 high school students. The objective of the study was to measure the level of self-esteem in high school students. The study has a more or less equal balance with 53.3% girls and 46.7% boys. The results shows surprisingly that 62.1% of the girls would like to weigh less and only 18.3% among the boys. Furthermore the research concluded that there is a correlation between low self-esteem and development of eating disorders. However, the report did not indicate any particular reasons for low self-esteem. Stice (2002) on the other hand have evaluated several studies. Stice advocate that the media is an indirect risk factor for eating disorders. The pressure to be thin increases body dissatisfaction, dieting and negative affect that all are important risk factors ( Catarin & Thompson, 1994; Field et al., 1998; Stice& Whitenton, in press; Wertheim, Koerner, & Paxton, 2001 as cited in Stice 2000).
Another risk factor that is clearly pointed out is family relationship. It shares some common feature with media but now the family takes the role as an indirect part that provokes risk factors