Anorexia - is it a psychological disorder?

Dear Genevieve,
Our team of researchers have provided information that will help you in determining rather Anorexia Nervosa is a psychological problem. This outline includes a history of Anorexia Nervosa, statistics that demonstrate the commonality of the eating disorders amongst men, women, and students, the symptoms, causes and treatments of the disorder, the biological impacts that the disorder can have, as well as articles and visuals that discuss the impacts of the disorder with emphasis on how social media can be a large influence. We believe we have collected accurate and efficient data that will heightened your understanding of Anorexia Nervosa and how it is a psychological disorder.

History of Anorexia Nervosa

Definition: Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that is most commonly present amongst young females but can be actively present amongst men and women varying in age. People who suffer from anorexia consume small quantities of food, which in many instances leads to starvation. Often, people suffering from anorexia are undernourished and ignore or limit their appetite for food consumption. Frequently, people with anorexia nervosa disorder become so malnourished that they increase their vulnerability to facing fatal consequences due to intensive biological damage to their body.

Cash, T. F., & Pruzinsky, T. (2002). Body image: a handbook of theory, research, and clinical practice. New York: Guilford Press.

William Wull first originated the term “anorexia nervosa” in 1873. Mara Selvini Palazzoli, a psychiatrist who published books discussing eating disorders, disputed the term and insisted the eating disorder be referred as ‘anoressia mentale’ (mental anorexia), as it avoids confusion with neurological and endocrine sydromes. However, throughout international literature the term “anorexia nervosa” was more commonly used.
In etymological terms, “anorexia” means ‘lack of appetite’. However, the condition of anorexia is not defined as the characterization of lack of appetite. A person suffering from anorexia nervosa feels hungry but tries to suppress the sensation. People in condition of starvation think constantly of food but attempt to limit their food intake to very little. Because of this Selvini Palazzoli claimed that mental anorexia is not a lack or perversion of appetite, but an impulse to be thin, which is wanted and completely accepted by the sufferer. It has then been argued that the most precise term is the German, pubertatsmagersucht, which is translated to ‘adolecent mania of thinness’.

Rebecca McKnight and Nicky Boughton BMJ: British Medical Journal, Vol. 340, No. 7736 (2 January 2010), pp. 46-48

Early Period: 1700
The first detailed medical description of anorexia nervoca came from a seventeenth century English pshycian named Richard Morton. He named the condition “nervous atrophy” and noted one of the major symptoms, weight loss, and implied the origin was psychological based on symptoms of nervousness. He noted other symptons such as an apparent appetite loss, amenorrhea, and lack of an observable organic pathology.

The Second Period: 1800-1900
In 1984 Charles Laseque, a French doctor, reported a case of a puzzling phenomena that is related simillarily to what today is known as a classical case of anorexia. Lasque cointed the term “hysterical anorexie” and hypothesized that “hysterical forces” contributed to a true disturbance of the digestive tract, which precipitated the second and third stages. The second state included sever emaciation, sympotoms such as amenorrhea, constipation and languo hair, as well as disorganization of the patient’s relationships. The third stage was described as listless cachexia, occasionally resulting in death.

The Third Period: 1900-1936
In the early twentieth century, Sigmund Freud observered an atypical case of anorexia nervosa. In 1895 he classified it with the neuroses and described it as an adolescent melancholia. With the increased sophistication of medical science, physicians began to approach anorexia nervosa from a medical rather than a psychological viewpoint. It was found difficult to believe that anorexia nervosa was brought about by psychological causes alone. In 1917, a German physician, Simmonds, described a case of a young woman being diagnosed as anorexic, who had also been provided an autoposy which proved she suffered from sever atrophy of the anterior pituitary lobe. Simmonds hypothesized that the anoretic features were the result of the tumor. This explanation was accepted by the medical community who began to diagnose all cases of anorexia nervosa as primary pituitary failure. Due to this, the discussion of the psychological features of the condition disappeared from literature and the symptom became known as Simmonds’ disease. This resulted in using “hormone” thereapy without any association towards psychological disturbances.

The Fourth Period: 1940-1960:
Contributions from Freudian psychoanalytical theory took rise. The theorietical accounts were based on a few cases and viewed the disorder as a neurotic conflict. Many theorists and clinicians found the explanations of drive theory to be to narrow, and, by the 1960’s, imposed upon the superego, ego and id in the context of relation to anorexia nervosa. It was noted that the changes in the ego are the essence of the illness due to the depersonalization and inability to recognize true feelings.

Modern Era: 1960-Present
The studies conducted focused solely on the description, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of anorexia nervosa. In 1974, Arthur H. Crisp, defined anorexia as “adolescent weight phobia”, which is most commonly found amongst females. The first phase of anorexia nervosa he noted is often depression and self-consciousness expressed towards the individuals body. Afterwards, the person begins dieting but the degree of weight loss varies between each female. During the second phase, weight loss becomes dramatic and the signs and symptoms have appeared such as amenorrhea, constipation, languo hair, and hyperactivity. The appetite and eating behavior become disturbed as a direct result of the starvation regime.

"Fasting Girls": Reflections on Writing the History of Anorexia Nervosa. Joan Jacobs Brumberg Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Vol. 50, No. 4/5, History and Research in Child Development (1985), pp. 93-104
"Anorexia". Sharon Bellot., History Workshop, No. 31 (Spring, 1991), p. 234
A. H. Crisp., British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Edition), Vol. 287, No. 6396 (Sep. 24, 1983), pp. 855-858


Eating Disorder Statistics:
o Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
o Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders
o Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness
o Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.
o Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

o 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”
o 86% report onset of eating disorder by age 20; 43% report onset between ages of 16 and 20.6
o Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
o 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
o 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
o The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
o Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
o In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.

o An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.
o Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “woman’s diseases.”
o Among gay men, nearly 14% appeared to suffer from bulimia and over 20% appeared to be anorexic.

Extra Statistics
o In 2002 survey, 1.5% of Canadian women ages 15-24 had an eating disorder.
o As many as 10% of people who suffer from anorexia either die as a result of health problems or suicide.

Anad. (2014, March 7th). Eating order statistics.
Nedic. (2014). Understanding statistics of eating disorders.
Canadian Mental Health Association. (2014). Eating disorders.


Food behaviour
Many people who suffer from anorexia have certain behaviours seen when dealing with food. This includes being against eating foods with too many calories, fat grams, and nutrition. They also read food labels, and weighting their portion of food they are eating. Another big issue is pretending to eat. Many individuals lie about eating already, throwing their food away, and hiding themselves all together.

Appearance is the main reason those who suffer anorexia want to achieve. You may notice dramatic weight loss, without any medical cause. They are constantly obsessed with their body image; they may be seen always weighting themselves, trying to have a desirable body shape, or clothing size. Another large issue included would be how critical they are about their appearance. They may say negative things that put themselves down about how their body looks.

This particular problem may not be visible to people, but there are use of medication to lose weight. Certain things that are used are diet pills, laxatives which cause you not to absorb the food. In addition, they may be obsessed with excising, to a point where it becomes compulsive.

Warning Signs
Signs of anorexia are very hard to find since most victims conceal, or dismiss it. Yet, there are some physical signs that one must look out for in order to distinguish if a person is suffering from anorexia. Although, these signs will be well known only by professionals.

These signs include:

• extreme weight loss
• thin appearance
• abnormal blood counts
• fatigue
• dizziness or fainting
• seizure
• brittle nails
• hair that thins, breaks or falls out
• absence of menstruation
• constipation
• dry skin
• intolerance of cold
• irregular heart rhythms
• low blood pressure
• dehydration
• osteoporosis, the loss of bone calcium, which may result in broken bones

Helpguide. (2014, March 17). Signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment.
Knolls, T. (2014, April 7th). Anorexia symptoms and effects.

Consequences of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa destroys a person's body completely. It is the highest death rate within mental illnesses. Between 5% and 20% of people die from it eventually and the longer one has it the faster the chances of dying are. Even if a person survives from it they damage almost every organ in their body.

Anorexia often attacks the bones first. - most cases of anorexia start in the adolescent years which destroys their bones because this is the age in which the put down critical bone mass which is suppose to sustain within them throughout their childhood.

At a certain time in one's life they reach this age where a window to increase bone mass occurs to last them a lifetime and most incidents of anorexia nervosa occur during this window. If the bone loss is lost for more than six months is it almost irreversible.

The most life-threatening damage is usually in the heart because it gets completely destroyed. - As a person losses bone mass they start to loss heart muscle and preferential rate, leaving the heart to get smaller and weaker. Most cases of anorexia nervosa are joined with extreme exercise practice which leads to increasing circulation and their pulse and blood pressure get lower.
It affects the bones and heart however it's also a multisystem disease. - About half of anorexics have low white blood cell counts and one third are anemic. The more a person destroys their body the lower their immune system gets and when their body really gets it, it won't have the defences to resist a disease and is very vulnerable to infection.

The Early Start
Most cases of anorexia focus on the females and when a female goes through the phase called "wanting to look thin" they develop many symptoms, one of them is losing their regularity of their period and then serious weight loss sets in. This can lead to losing their ability to bear children. One of the major problems with anorexia and bearing children is that most women would prefer to receive a treatment for fertility than for their eating disorder. Even if they are fully recovered they are still at high risk of getting miscarriages and caesarean sections.

Bulimia is also tied in
As anorexics don’t eat, bulimics eat in big amounts to throw it up which wrecks their havoc on their digestive tracts because they are continuously being covered in stomach acid; this can lead to the digestive disorder of reflux esophagitis. However it can lead to more severe problems like esophageal cancer.

Good News
Some of these complications can be reversible however only if the person returns to a normal weight. The person would have to be working backwards in a way. Most of these people can't afford to help themselves because it costs about $30,000 - %100,000 a month.

Feature, G. (n.d.). Anorexia: The Body Neglected. WebMD. Retrieved April 3, 2014,
This source was very relevant to many of topics. It gave very valid information however it didn't provide enough information about my sub topic. The source provided lots of information on long term effects of anorexia but not many on short term.
Long-Term Effects of Eating Disorders. (n.d.). Get Help For Eating Disorders RSS. Retrieved April 3, 2014,
This source was the most relevant to my topic, it provided very strong points and valid points because the website is a health oriented therapy style. It lists all the negative effects of anorexia and it really helped me.
Meczekalski, b. (n.d.). Result Filters. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved April 3, 2014,
I was able to take some information from this cite, however most of the information that this website provided was scientific based. It wasn't relevant for the most part however I was able to pull out some important points.
Woods, R. (n.d.). short term effects of anorexia nervosa. HealthTap. Retrieved April 5, 2014,
This website provided many specific examples of teenage girls and their personal examples. They really helped me get a feel of how realistic all the information I found was because I wanted to relate whether it was the same as the short term and long term effects I found.
andrew, r. (n.d.). Long Term Effects Of Anorexia Nervosa. Long Term Effects Of Anorexia Nervosa. Retrieved April 5, 2014
This site was the most relevant because it provided the most valid information from them all. All the information related to both short term and long term effects and it talked about them in a deeper way then the other sites.

Neuro-biological Causes of Anorexia Nervosa

Kaye W. (2008). Neurobiology of anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Physiology and behavior, 94(1), 121-135.

This article focuses on the neurological vulnerabilities in individuals with anorexia. Individuals with anorexia have common characteristics like perfectionism, obsessive-compulsiveness, and dysphonic mood. These traits and symptoms are often present in childhood and make you more vulnerable to develop an eating disorder. These neurological vulnerabilities make a very large impact on the mechanism that causes the disease. In anorexia, individuals have altered brain serotonin function which contributes to loss and deregulation of appetite, mood, and impulse control. As noted in this article it is possible that a trait related to the disturbance or alteration of serotonin causes neurotransmitters in the neurons system to initiate the beginning stages of anorexia. This contributes to preceding symptoms of anxiety, obsession, and inhibition. This may lead to a non-normal regulation of emotional and reward pathways (which also regulate the aspects of appetite) and therefore these individuals are more vulnerable and have the possibility of a disrupted and non-normal appetite. Not having an appetite leads to malnutrition and a lot of body weight being lost which may produce alterations in many neuropeptides (neuronal signaling molecules), which in turn will exaggerate unpleasant moods, mainly sadness and irritability.

Vocks S, Herpertz S, Rosenberger C, Senf W, Gizewski E.R. (2011). Effects of gustatory stimulation on brain activity during hunger and satiety in females with restricting-type anorexia nervosa: An fMRI study. Journal of psychiatric research, 45(3), 395-403.

This article is based on an experiment that was conducted and states the results and conclusion. In this experiment the goal was to assess the gustatory processing of stimulation with food in anorexia nervosa. After conducting this experiment the researchers found results that supported that the gustatory stimulation was different depending on whether an individual was hungry or satisfied. There were activations in the amygdala (a part of the brain that is affected during anorexia) which might be representative of the fear of weight gain. This is the most common symptom of individuals with anorexia.

Rosen M, (2013 July 26) The anorexic brain. Science News. Retreived from


Studies of the brains of people with anorexia have revealed a number of complex
brain circuits that show changes in activity compared with healthy people.

SUGAR HIGH When an anorexic woman unexpectedly gets a taste of sugar (yellow) or misses
out on it (blue), her brain's reward circuitry shows more activity than a healthy-weight
or obese woman's. Anorexics' reward-processing systems may be out of order.

The first image displays the areas of the brain that are affected in an individual with anorexia nervosa. Whereas the second displays the comparison of a brain of an individual with anorexia to a normal individuals brain with and without sugar. This indicates that the reward center in individuals with anorexia behaves in a different manner compared to healthy individuals.

Hirst J. (1998). Biological causes of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Biology 202.

Genetics, Neurotransmitters and Hormones

It is said that genetics plays a role in eating disorders and in this case in anorexia. An individual with certain genetics predisposes them to developing an eating disorder. Research indicates that about half the risk of developing an eating disorder is inherited as well as if a member of a family has an eating disorder an individual is more likely to develop one as well. Abnormal levels of neurotransmitters exist in individuals with anorexia. The hypothalamus plays a large role. When the ventromedial hypothalamus is stimulated, eating behavior stops and results in an individual with the feeling of being satisfied. On the other hand, when the lateral hypothalamus is stimulated it correlates to eating behavior. These two parts work together to maintain a representative body weight for an individual. In Anorexia, damage to the hypothalamus is caused. Damage to either of these regions causes the set points to be altered. In anorexia these areas have lower than normal set points. Serotonin plays a large role in individuals with anorexia. Serotonin levels in individuals with anorexia are abnormal. This results in overactive response centres. Excessive levels of serotonin allows a nervous feeling to occur in individuals with anorexia, and to attempt to eliminate this uncomfortable feeling, it leads to self starvation. When serotonin is released into the ventromedial hypothalamus and the lateral hypothalamus, the feeling of fullness results, eating stops and starvation results.

Biological Efftects of Anorexia Nervosa

(2010 November, 1) What anorexia can do to your body. Mental Heath Retrieved from

Anorexia can have many health effects and cause biological stress to the body. The information from this source focuses on three main factors: effects on your heart an blood vessels, effects on your bones, and effects on estrogen and fertility. Anorexia causes a decrease in body mass index and places you in the underweight category. The imbalance between your weight and height can cause affects on your heartbeat and results in low blood pressure. A low blood pressure results in slow and low amount of blood to the organs that need it. Not eating or drinking enough can also cause dehydration. This results in a low plasma volume in the blood which in turn affects the amount of blood entering and leaving the heart. This again causes insufficient amount of blood being carried to your organs that need it. These continuous effects on your heart can eventually cause an irregular heart beat that contributes to other health effects. Anorexia also has a negative effect on your bones skin and teeth. Anorexia causes much less of the hormone oestrogen to be produced. Oestrogen is very important to help maintain strong and healthy bones. Therefore without it causes your bones to weaken, and causes the bones to lose more bone than they can replace. This is called osteoporosis. The oestrogen levels that are not being produced due to anorexia also cause menstrual cycles to stop. This leads to many pregnancy problems and may stop your ability to get pregnant altogether.

Dixon, J. (2010 July 27) Eat to Live. Retrieved from


This image outlines the effects that anorexia has on the body. Although it does not go into detail, it shows all the parts of the body and how they are negatively effected by anorexia. As the image displays, there are many biological effects caused by this eating disorder. One illness or malfunction in a certain part of the body can easily lead to another somewhere else. Our body is connected and homeostasis must be maintained or certain parts of the body will suffer unhealthy consequences.

Anorexia Nervosa and the Media

How does the media influence Anorexia?

Garner, D. M., & Bermis, K. M. (1982, June 1). A cognitive-behavioral approach to anorexia nervosa - Springer. <i>Springer Link</i>. Retrieved March 19, 2014, from

This abstract focuses on the cognitive and behavioral aspects of Anorexia Nervousa. The journal article discusses "the limitations of conceptualizing the disorder simply as a behavioral pattern maintained by environmental contingencies or negative reinforcement". In other words, it explains how Anorexia Nervousa comes to be based on environmental factors, as well as negative interactions. The rest of the article briefly summarizes a basic cognitive-behavioral intervention method that is based on Beck's cognitive therapy. ** It also discusses recommendations for anorexic clients (including techniques for developing motivation for psychotherapy and how to manage food intake and weight), assessment procedures, behavioral strategies, common irrational beliefs and systematic cognitive distortions

** Beck's cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy developed by then-psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck. He developed a cognitive model that states that thoughts, feelings and behavior are all connected, and that individuals can overcome difficulties and meet their goals if they identify and change unhelpful and negative thinking, problematic behavior and distress emotional responses.
Beck, J. S. (1995). <i>Cognitive therapy: basics and beyond</i>. New York: Guilford Press.

Gray, R. (2014, March 1). Comment | The harsh reality about anorexia | Leeds Student Newspaper. Leeds Student Newspaper. Retrieved March 19, 2014, from

This news article talks about the stereotypes about Anorexia. It starts off by analyzing the judgement and thoughts people have when they hear the word "anorexia". Things like; purging, binging, and extreme dieting associated with young, teenage girls. Society is so focused on the negative connotations of Anorexia which leaves them ignorant to the fact that it is a serious psychological mental illness that affects about 10% of males. It is essential that we drive away thoughts about Anorexia only affecting teenage girls. If Anorexia was recognized as a serious mental illness that affects both males and females, there's a possibility that males would be more comfortable with facing the fact that they suffer from it - because it's not a "girly problem". Although there are different reasons as to why different people suffer from Anorexia, the goal is the same: to that have perfect body. Anorexia Nervousa is a continuing deadly issue that is not taken serious by society. The more we put the spotlight on the environmental factors, the more the psychological causes are overlooked, making it seem like it's not as big of a deal as, for example, disease.

Fairburn, Christopher G, Roz Shafran, and Zafra Cooper. "A Cognitive Behavioural Theory Of Anorexia Nervosa." Behaviour Research and Therapy 37.1 (1999): 1-13. Print.

According to the abstract of this scholarly article, the central goal for somebody suffering from anorexia is to control their eating in an extreme manner. Judging of self worth in terms of shape and weight are also characteristics of this mental illness and is superimposed on this need for self-control. If one has full control over their eating habits, they have the satisfaction of being in control, therefore enhancing their self-worth. It's safe to say that having some type of self-control is an essential aspect of anorexia and that seems to be the main concern: "If I can control what I am eating, I will achieve this body I am craving to possess." People suffering from anorexia often tend to perfectionists and this perfectionism clashes with their prolonged low self-esteem. At first they will try to control other aspects of their life (i.e. work, sports, other interests) but soon, having control over eating habits becomes important because it is seen as "successful behaviour", because they now have control over something. In the mind of anorexics, the feeling of hunger is a threat to control over eating and the feeling of fullness is can be seen as a failure of self-control.

Morris, Anne, and Debra Katzman. "TYPES OF MEDIA EXPOSURE." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 5 Oct. 1922. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. <

Eating disorders associated with adolescent girls have increased in the past 50 years. As a result of the media, adolescents prioritize their body image to the point where they are willing to put their health and diet into jeopardy. Today, children and adolescents grow up in a world where mass media (television, films, videos, billboards, magazines, movies, music, newspapers, fashion designers and the Internet) are a part of their daily lives. Statistics reveal that children watch up to 5 hours of TV a day and spend an average of 6-7 hours with the rest of the named mass media. Over the past 20 years, there have been a tremendous amount of articles suggesting there is a link between the “ideal” thin female image and the muscular male body and body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. In a study by Katzmarzyk and Davis who examined changes in body weight and shape of Playboy for over 20 years, it was found that there was a significant decrease in the models’ weights and measurements. 70% of women were underweight. A similar study focussing on male models in Playgirl magazine found that male models have become significantly more muscular over time.
Research studies show that adolescents frequently report body dissatisfaction, with females experiencing it more than males. Teen girls want to be thinner, whereas males want to be more muscular. “A meta-analysis of 25 studies involving female subjects, examined the effect of exposure to media images of the slender body ideal. Body image was significantly more negative after viewing thin media images than after viewing images of either average size models, plus size models or inanimate objects. This effect was found to be stronger in women younger than 19 years of age”. In a study by Tiggemann et al, the main purpose was to study body concerns in teenage girls aged 16 years old in order to understand the underlying motivation for their wish to become thin. The strongest factor influencing their desire to become thin was the media.

"Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders | National Eating Disorders Association." Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders | National Eating Disorders Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <>.

Although there isn’t one specific cause of anorexia or any other eating disorder, researchers think it’s safe to say that media is a major contributor to it. The effect of media on women’s body dissatisfaction, thin ideal internalization, and disordered eating appears to be stronger among young adults than children. This may suggest that long-term exposure during childhood and adolescence lays the foundation for the negative effects of media during early adulthood. Pressure from mass media to be muscular also appears to be related to body dissatisfaction among men, and it is found that young men are more negatively affected by the media than teenage boys are.

Rader, Jonathan . "Does the media cause eating disorders?." Health Care Communications. N.p., 28 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. <>.

According to this article, eating disorders have a higher mortality rate than any other mental illness. As many as 20% of those who suffer from anorexia will die prematurely from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems. While there are many possible causes and triggers for these disorders, the media’s influence on body image is a major contributor. In 1950, when the television was manufactured and was finding their way into homes, the media’s portrayal of the “ideal” body figure for females was very different than it is today. Back then, mannequins and models portrayed the average woman’s size. Unfortunetely, mannequins and models have increasingly become thinner, creating a new “average” body weight for women. Today, not only do models meet the BMI criteria for anorexia, but even the plus size model has slowly decreased over the past decade. Researchers have shown a correlation between the media’s unattainable standards of beauty and the reality that most people suffering refuse to face with their true body images. One study showed that 69% of girls stated that magazine models influenced their idea to achieve the perfect body shape. In a survey conducted by People Magazine, 80% of women said that images of women that they see on TV and in movies make them feel insecure.


Jade, Deanne . "National Centre for Eating Disorders." National Centre for Eating Disorders. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. <>.

There is no doubt that the media is a significant factor in eating disorders such as anorexia. The gap between actual body sizes and the cultural ideal is getting wider, and giving rise to anxiety among almost all women, although it is the most vulnerable who are most affected by this. The media often targets young adolescents because they are going through a period in their lives where their self confidence is probably not at its all time high, in fact, it is most fragile at this stage due to physical changes of puberty and where the tendency for social comparison is common. Girls find themselves in a culture of dieting as a result of reflecting messages from the media.

The media can have many influences in relation to food and eating including:

• It confers hidden meanings on food – nostalgia, sexiness, being a good housewife and mother, rewarding oneself, having uninhibited fun etc, and creates unnatural drives for food.
• The media can persuade us that wrong eating habits are right and natural. I cite the case of a MacDonald’s advertisement recently in which a young boy persuades both his parents to take him for a burger and chips rather than a healthy outing at the zoo.
• The media can create anxieties about being deprived if we don’t have what “everyone else” is having.”
• The media presents us with an idealised shape which is invested with attributes of being attractive, desirable, successful and loveable but which is unattainable without resorting to sinister or dangerous eating habits.
• The media perpetuates the feeling in people who do not have the ideal shape that their life would be fine if they were slim..

“It would seem that the media doesn’t simply make the ideal body desirable, these dieting behaviours spring from an epidemic of low esteem, stress, guilt and depression about having a body that falls short of the cultural ideal. People who diet believe that they look bad, and that this will affect their ability to get a good job or attract members of the opposite sex unless they are thinner”. The media contributes to low self esteem by promoting thinness as the pathway to gaining love, acceptance, and respect while trying to make it a trend in order to demonise “fat”.

"Media Influence." Eating Disorders and. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.>.

Everybody, from a young age, is exposed to the media – whether it be through the TV, magazines, movies or music videos. These forms of media bombard us with advertisements and images to tell us that the only way to be successful and happy is to be THIN. These evil messages are especially targeted at young adults, making them feel like they have a million flaws because they don’t look like the supermodel on the runway, or the Hollister model in a magazine.

The following are statistics and facts that show how obsessed people are with achieving the “ideal” weight.

• The majority of runway model meet the Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria to be considered anorexic.
• Vogue magazine stated that they chose Gisele Bunchen as their “model of the year” due, in part, to the fact that she deviates from the typical “rail thin” image. In fact, Gisele weighs only 115 lbs. and is 5’11 – 25% below her ideal weight.
• At 5’7 and 95 lbs. Kate Moss is 30% below her ideal weight.
• Fashion models’ weight averaged only 8% less than the average women 20 years ago. Today the average fashion model weighs 23% less than the average woman.
• 25% of Playboy centerfold models meet the criteria to be considered anorexic.
• Many magazines create images of women that don’t really exist by using computer-modified compilations of various body parts.
• Playgirl magazine centerfolds have grown increasingly muscular with less body fat over the last 20 years. However, the average man’s weight and body fat percentage have increased.
• Miss America contestants have grown increasingly thinner over the past three decades.
• Plus-sized models averaged between size 12 and 18 only ten years ago. Now, the majority of plus-sized models on agency rosters are between size 6 and 14.
• Mannequins closely resembled the shape of the average woman in the 1950s; the average mannequin and woman both had the hip measurement of 34 inches. Since then, there has been an increasing disparity between mannequins and the average woman. By 1990 the average hip measurement had increased to 37 inches while mannequins had decreased to 31 inches.
• Based on their theoretical body-fat percentages, most mannequins would cease to menstruate if they were real women.
• The average U.S. model weighs 117 lbs and is 5’11 while the average U.S. woman weighs 140 lbs. and is 5’4.

Movies, Television and Music
• Many actors and musicians have admitted to struggling with eating disorders including Demi Lovato, Katie Couric, Lady Gaga, Kate Beckinsale and Kelly Clarkson.
• 50% of commercials aimed at women mention physical attractiveness.
• Every year, the average adolescent sees over 5,000 advertisements mentioning attractiveness.
• A People magazine survey showed that 80% of female respondents felt that women in movies and television programs made them feel insecure about their bodies.
• The rate of eating disorders in Fiji surged following the introduction of Western television programming.
• A People magazine survey showed that 80% of female respondents felt that women in movies and television programs made them feel insecure about their bodies.
• In Allure magazine model and actress Elizabeth Hurley stated, “I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat.”
• Actresses Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts and the singer Diana Ross meet the BMI criteria for anorexia.

• 5 Minutes of What the Media Actually Does To Women:

Treatments for Anorexia Nervosa

Smith, Melinda , and Jeanne Segal. "Anorexia Nervosa." <i>: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment</i>. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. &lt;;.

Anorexia is associated with both the mind and the body, so getting physical as well as emotional & mental treatment is crucial. Medical doctors, psychologists, counselors, dieticians and family members are all involved in anorexia treatment. They are there to support you and help you recover. There are three parts to treating anorexia. The first step is getting back to a healthy weight, the second is starting to eat more food and then eventually you will reach the last step: changing how you think about yourself and food. There are many different ways to treat anorexia. The first being medically. Hospitalization should be an open option in order to stabilize any serious health issues. The second is nutritional counselling. A nutritionist or dietician will teach you about healthy eating and proper nutrition. The nutritionist will also help you develop and follow meal plans that include enough calories to reach or maintain a normal, healthy weight. The last is getting counselling and therapy for anorexia. The goal for counselling is to identify the negative thoughts that may have triggered the eating disorder. Another goal is to teach you how to deal with difficult emotions and hard times in a more productive way rather than a destructive way.

Grohol, John. "Treatment for Anorexia | Psych Central." Psych N.p., 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. <>.

There are two types of psychotherapy sessions that are essential for the treatment of anorexia. The first one being “cognitive-behavioural” therapy. Also known as CBT, it is considered the treatment of choice for people with anorexia. It is a time-limited, meaning that a person with anorexia will go into treatment for a specific period of time with specific goals in mind. Like all psychotherapy, it can be conducted in either an outpatient (once weekly) or inpatient setting, and focused approach that helps a person understand how their thinking and negative self-talk and self-image can directly impact their eating and negative behaviors. will often focus on identifying and altering dysfunctional thought patterns, attitudes and beliefs, which may trigger the symptoms of anorexia. The second type of session is the “family therapy” sessions. This type of therapy helps a person with anorexia see and understand the often-times dysfunctional role they play within the family, and how their eating behaviors maintain that role. They are usually conducted with the person who has anorexia and their family. However, sometimes, a few family therapy sessions may involve therapy without the person who has anorexia. This may help the family understand the roles they are playing in supporting the disordered eating, and suggest ways the family can help the person with anorexia acknowledge the problem and seek out treatment.

Psych Central. (2013). Anorexia Nervosa Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 2, 2014, from

Along with hospitalization and psychotherapy, taking medications and self-help are important in treating anorexia. Some medications can be extremely helpful in treatment a person who suffers from anorexia nervosa. The medication should be carefully monitored, especially since the patient may be vomiting, which may impact on the medication’s effectiveness.Antidepressants (such as amitriptyline) are the usual drug treatment and may speed up the recovery process. Chlorpromazine may be beneficial for those individuals suffering from severe obsessions and increased anxiety and agitation. Self-help methods for the treatment of this disorder are often overlooked by the medical profession because very few professionals are involved in them. Self-help support groups are an effective means of ensuring long-term treatment and decrease the relapse rate. Individuals find they can bounce ideas off of one another, get objective feedback about body image, and just gain increased social support.

"Treatment for anorexia and bulimia." N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. <>.

This article introduces the Maudsley approach. The Maudsley approach is a family-based therapy approach used in treating eating disorders such as anorexia. The Family-Based Maudsley Treatment approach represents a very different way of looking at eating disorders and treatment from traditional approaches. has three phases over a period of 6-12 months, led by a family-based , and involve the entire family in hour-long weekly sessions. The parents are coached in how to help the patient eat (and/or stop purging and over-exercising) and siblings are encouraged to ally with the ill sibling. Patients are neither expected to nor asked to cooperate - in fact in the first session of Family-Based Maudsley Treatment a family meal is eaten in the therapist's office and the ill person is asked to resist eating to demonstrate the difficulties and dynamics of the family around the meal. The three phases of treatment are: Parents take responsibility for decisions of what, when, and how much the ill patient eats as well as behaviors around food, after weight restoration is nearly achieved, control is carefully given back to the patient, and finally, the therapist and family work to restore normal and age-appropriate lifestyle and relations between family members.

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