Understanding the Problem

According to the National Institute of Mental Health there are over 5 million people in the United States suffering with eating disorders. The problems of anorexia/bulimia and bulimia have been growing at an alarming rate since the early 1980’s. Within the global economy cultural ideas are being traded along with other goods and services. This leaves the door open for anorexia/bulimia and bulimia to be exported worldwide and now even non-Westernized countries are experiencing the affects of anorexia/bulimia and bulimia.

Statistics show that:

  • 1% of all North American teenagers have eating disorders.
  • 10% of these teenagers will die. (read our case story: Death of a Daughter)
  • People struggling with anorexia/bulimia are among those whose health are at great risk.
  • Therapists, nurses, family doctors and psychiatrists have not had much long-term success in the treatment of anorexia/bulimia.

Health professionals will tell you that anorexia/bulimia is one of the most complex and difficult problems to treat. Statistically, traditional forms of treatment continue to be quite unsuccessful. Many professionals are left feeling hopeless and paralyzed.

Anorexia/bulimia consistently undermines prized psychological theories, and millions of dollars have been wasted on anorexia/bulimia research. Unfortunately, the majority of research and therapy practice concentrates on bio-medical answers and pharmaceutical cures while denying society’s link to the problem (it should be noted that 95% of all federally funded research is biologically-based).

If we continue to believe anorexia/bulimia has a biological basis of behavior, treatment for eating disorders will continue to fail. It is important that we consider the following questions:

  • What would occur in our medical clinics if our research began to realize that anorexia/bulimia does not start in the genes, nor is a result of individual deficit?
  • What if the statement – “these girls just need to eat” – was challenged, and instead we accepted society’s role in promoting anorexia/bulimia?
  • What if we examined culture, the body watching, the fear of not measuring up, the belief that thinner is better, the media’s rules of set body specifications, and gender prescriptions of the body.

Anorexia/bulimia was once the exclusive domain of upper-class heterosexual, young, white women. Over the last two decades, the demographics of anorexia/bulimia sufferers has changed. Sadly enough, in both the professional and non-professional arena, anorexia/bulimia continues to be viewed as the “disease” of spoiled, temperamental, overly-controlling, overly-indulged Daddy’s girls, who “just need to eat.”

Did you know that: Eating disorder treatment centers report anorexia/bulimia affects people across the spectrum of gender, age, race, class, and sexual preference. anorexia/bulimia is not only isolated to North Americans and Europeans, treatment centers serve a full-range of cultures including people from Iran, Korea, Turkey, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Africa. While anorexia/bulimia is more likely to affect younger women, eating disorders include women and men, gay and straight, rich and poor, old and young.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *