Fat Phobia

The society that we live in today is composed of people of different ages, nationalities and body sizes, for some reason, the issue of body size is quite sensitive across all nations, majority of people do not like talking about it or even acknowledging that a problem exists, when your body has to be a certain size for you to be considered trendy. The sad fact in this case is that women are more affected by the negative body images as opposed to men who are not faced with pressure from the society to lose weight and maintain a certain body size.

Teenagers and young adults, especially the girls, through the media, are influenced think that for them to be successful, they have to be skinny. These girls therefore result to unorthodox methods in order to remain thin and not gain weight. Evolution of the Female Body According to an article by The Feminist e-Zine-Health, American women are living in a society that is obsessed with being thin. Magazine pages and television screens are filled with images of ultra-thin women, diet and exercise tips.

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The society moved from full figured female bodies to the thin bodies and this led to an increase in the eating disorders bringing forth negative body images. Over the years, there has been an evolution of how an ideal female body should look like. In the 1800s a woman who looked voluptuous and had extra weigh on her body was considered to be a rich and wealthy. However, in the early 1900s the women body size shifted from being plump and voluptuous to thinner bodies with less curves.

Although the more curvaceous type of body came back in the 1950’s, in the 1960’s the ideal body size was of a woman who was really skinny, super model Twiggy who had a tiny body frame was seen as the ideal image of the 1960s. Karen Carpenter, a singer died of heart failure related to anorexia nervosa in 1983, the public became aware of the dangers of eating disorders after her tragic death, she had began her battle with the disease in the 1970s (The Feminist eZine-Health).

In the 1980s there was an increase in the articles on dieting trends and body weight matters, the trend was for women to become thinner, “the women’s hips and busts were decreasing as their height increased”. America began to emphasize on dieting, exercise and weigh loss. Today this trend continues even more “not only are ‘ideal’ women supposed to be ridiculously under weight, but are also supposed to be physically fit and toned without being too muscular”. Nonetheless, many women are not able to achieve this unnatural body standard and those that do usually end up with an eating disorder (The Feminist eZine-Health).

Eating disorders According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a person with an eating disorder tends to highly reduce food intake, overeats or has distress over body weight and image. distress or concern about body weight or shape. A person with an eating disorder may start out by gradually reducing or increasing the amount of food that she consumes daily but with time, she finds out that she can no longer control her food intake, that being the case she may lose weight drastically or gain weight uncontrollably.

Eating disorders are very complex, and despite scientific research to understand them, the biological, behavioral and social underpinnings of these illnesses remain elusive. There are disorders that result from reduction of food intake; anorexia and bulimia are two such eating disorders. A third category is “eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS),” which includes several variations of eating disorders. Most of these disorders are similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics. Binge-eating disorder, which has received increasing research and media attention in recent years, is one type of EDNOS.

Eating disorders frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood, but some reports indicate that they can develop even in small children or later in adulthood. Women and girls are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. Men and boys account for an estimated 5 to 15 percent of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders are real, treatable diseases with complex underlying causes. They frequently co-exist with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders.

People with eating disorders also can suffer from numerous other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death. Eating disorders are treatable diseases Psychological and medicinal treatments are effective for many eating disorders. However, in more chronic cases, specific treatments have not yet been identified. In these cases, treatment plans often are tailored to the patient’s individual needs that may include medical care and monitoring; medications; nutritional counseling; and individual, group and/or family psychotherapy.

Some patients may also need to be hospitalized to treat malnutrition or to gain weight, or for other reasons. Anorexia Nervosa This disease occurs mostly in young girls and the obvious symptoms include emaciation, a relentless pursuit of thinness and trying to lose a lot of weight and the person is not willing to be of normal body weight, a distortion of body image and intense fear of gaining weight, a lack of menstruation among girls and women, and extremely disturbed eating behavior.

Some of the girls lose weight by excessive dieting and exercise; there are some who try to expel the food through vomiting or misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight, even when they are starved or are clearly malnourished. Eating, food and weight control become obsessions. A person with anorexia typically weighs herself or himself repeatedly, portions food carefully, and eats only very small quantities of only certain foods. Some who have anorexia recover with treatment after only one episode.

Others get well but have relapses. Still others have a more chronic form of anorexia, in which over many years as they battle the illness, their bodies can no longer take the pressure and they may even die. According to some studies, people with anorexia are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness compared to those without the disorder. The most common complications that lead to death are cardiac arrest, and electrolyte and fluid imbalances. Suicide also can result.

Many people with anorexia also have coexisting psychiatric and physical illnesses, including depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological complications, and impaired physical development. Other symptoms may develop over time, including: • thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis) • brittle hair and nails • dry and yellowish skin • growth of fine hair over body (e. g. , lanugo) • mild anemia, and muscle weakness and loss • severe constipation • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse

• drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time • lethargy TREATING ANOREXIA involves three components: 1. restoring the person to a healthy weight; 2. treating the psychological issues related to the eating disorder; and 3. reducing or eliminating behaviors or thoughts that lead to disordered eating, and preventing relapse. Some research suggests that the use of medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilizers, may be modestly effective in treating patients with anorexia by helping to resolve mood and anxiety symptoms that often co-exist with anorexia.

Recent studies, however, have suggested that antidepressants may not be effective in preventing some patients with anorexia from relapsing. In addition, no medication has shown to be effective during the critical first phase of restoring a patient to healthy weight. Overall, it is unclear if and how medications can help patients conquer anorexia, but research is ongoing. Different forms of psychotherapy, including individual, group and family-based, can help address the psychological reasons for the illness.

Some studies suggest that family-based therapies in which parents assume responsibility for feeding their afflicted adolescent are the most effective in helping a person with anorexia gain weight and improve eating habits and moods. Shown to be effective in case studies and clinical trials, this particular approach is discussed in some guidelines and studies for treating eating disorders in younger, non chronic patients. Others have noted that a combined approach of medical attention and supportive psychotherapy designed specifically for anorexia patients is more effective than just psychotherapy.

But the effectiveness of a treatment depends on the person involved and his or her situation. Unfortunately, no specific psychotherapy appears to be consistently effective for treating adults with anorexia. However, research into novel treatment and prevention approaches is showing some promise. One study suggests that an online intervention program may prevent some at-risk women from developing an eating disorder. Bulimia Nervosa Bulimia nervosa’s main symptoms are recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food, and the person finds herself not being able to control her food intake.

This episode is followed by a type of behavior that compensates for the binge, such as purging (e. g. , vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics), fasting and/or excessive exercise. Unlike anorexia, those suffering from bulimia can fall within the normal range for their age and weight. But like people with anorexia, they often find themselves obsessing over their weight, want desperately to lose weight, and are intensely unhappy with their body size and shape. Usually, bulimic behavior is done secretly, because it is often accompanied by feelings of disgust or shame.

Similar to anorexia, people with bulimia often have coexisting psychological illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and/or substance abuse problems. Many physical conditions result from the purging aspect of the illness, including electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal problems, and oral and tooth-related problems. Other symptoms include: • chronically inflamed and sore throat • swollen glands in the neck and below the jaw • worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acids • gastro esophageal reflux disorder

• intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse • kidney problems from diuretic abuse • severe dehydration from purging of fluids As with anorexia, TREATMENT FOR BULIMIA often involves a combination of options and depends on the needs of the individual. To reduce or eliminate binge and purge behavior, a person may require nutritional counseling and psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or be prescribed medication. Some antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), which is the only medication approved by the U. S.

Food and Drug Administration for treating bulimia, may help patients who also have depression and/or anxiety. It also appears to help reduce binge-eating and purging behavior, reduces the chance of relapse, and improves eating attitudes. CBT that has been tailored to treat bulimia also has shown to be effective in changing binging and purging behavior, and eating attitudes. Therapy may be individually oriented or group-based. Binge-Eating Disorder When a person is suffering from this disorder, she finds herself consuming a lot of food with out being able to control her food intake.

However the person does not try to expel the food and therefore she gains a lot of weight and in most cases becomes obese. Obese people with binge-eating disorder often have coexisting psychological illnesses including anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. In addition, links between obesity and cardiovascular disease and hypertension are well documented. Treatment options for binge-eating disorder are similar to those used to treat bulimia. Blame the Media There are always images of skinny actresses, artistes and models on the television screens, internet and magazines that are accessible to the teenage girls.

Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa are the conditions that result from the teenage girls wanting to look like the famous thin people that they see. These conditions are almost not found in the developing countries, but in the western, developed countries, they are very common. Images on the television rarely show us men and women of average body size in their popular shows. The people in these shows and the advertisements are always of smaller body sizes and they have well toned bodies with no visible fat.

Fashion models on television and on magazines have become thinner, while modeling agencies pursue anorexic models. Diet advertisements clutter magazines, television and newspapers; we are continuously led to believe that by losing weight we will be happy. Pop culture combines with the diet industry’s drive to make money and therefore they are always trying to convince people to follow a certain diet in order to lose weight and in the process they make a lot of money from the gullible people.

“Magazine reading and television viewing, especially exposure to thinness-depicting and thinness-promoting media, significantly predict symptoms of women’s eating disorder”. Kristen Harrison, assistant professor of communication studies, conducted a study on how general fitness and fashion magazines and television shows with thin characters also play a key role in influencing irregular eating patterns of young women.

Reading fashion magazines in particular is related to a woman’s drive for thinness and her dissatisfaction with her body. Drive for thinness is a learned behavior that magazines and television explain how to achieve through dieting and exercise. Body dissatisfaction is associated with a set of attitudes. Attitudes about a person individually and her views of what could keep her happy which in this case she thinks it is having a certain body size (DeGroat,1997).

“It seems clear that young women’s patterns of disordered eating, including both attitudinal and behavioral tendencies, are related not only to the types of media they expose themselves to, but also to the way they perceive and respond to specific mass s media characters,” Harrison says. “This relationship may seem obvious to readers who are concerned with this issue and openly acknowledge the possibility that the media operate as transmitters of potentially dangerous socially desirable values and norm s (DeGroat, 1997).

Quest for Thinness In January 2010, Brittany and Samuel Labberton were facing felony charges on grounds of being concerned about their daughter’s appearance at the expense of her health. Even after the girl had been taken from them and placed in foster care, her adoptive parents noticed that after a visit with the Labbertons, the then five-month’s feeding bottle had a suspicious smell, on further investigation, a pediatrician found out that the bottle was likely filled with a laxative, which is used in most cases for weight loss.

This meant that her biological parents were still trying to force her to lose weight even after she had been taken from them (Pulkkinen, 2010). The girl was underweight when she was born, her parents did not feed her as instructed by the doctor and they returned her to the hospital less than two months after her birth. They blamed her poor eating habit for the weight loss, the girl gained weight while in hospital despite her parents earlier claims. When Brittany was told of the progress, she was not happy and when she finally saw the girl, she complained that the girl was fat.

The couple’s other daughter was taken away by social service workers after Brittany said that she felt she would kill her self and the older girl. The girl was quite hungry and she nearly chocked on the food they had offered her at the foster home where she had been taken (Pulkkinen, 2010). Commenting on the Samuel and Brittany labberton case, Dolgoff who is a pediatrician; child obesity specialist, said that she had seen similar cases in her practice, for instance, cases of mothers bringing their normal weight teenage daughters to her office and complaining that the girls were fat.

She said that the mothers are never happy when she would refuse to treat their daughters. According to her, parents should accept their children the way they are and not place unrealistic expectation on them, this will make the children feel secure, do well in school and live happy lives (Dolgoff, 2010). According to an article published on April 14, 2010, a study conducted on women showed that when shown pictures of overweight strangers, women go into self reflection.

This is because women are conditioned to be afraid of growing fat; they are constantly bombarded with images of being thin being ideal. The same test done on men revealed that men showed no interest in their weight, that is why women are more prone to eating disorders. Neuroscientist, Mark Allen said that the women in the study had no history of eating disorders and yet they had fears of getting fat (Telegram. co. uk). Conclusion The society in general needs to stop the obsession on body size; this obsession has led to many unnecessary deaths from the eating disorders.

Individuals should be left out to make decisions on the body size that he/she wants and she should not have to conform to what the media claims to be the “ideal” body size. References DeGroat, B. (1997). Media influence eating disorders http://www. ur. umich. edu/9798/Oct22_97/media. htm Dolgoff, J. (2010). The quest for a thin baby, how far some parents go. Retrieved on May 6, 2010. From http://www. huffingtonpost. com/joanna-dolgoff-md/the-quest-for-a-thin-baby_b_461261. html National Institute of Mental Health (2009). Eating disorders.

http://www. nimh. nih. gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/complete-index. shtml Pulkkinen, L. (2010). Parents did not want a fat baby so they starved her. Retrieved on May 6, 2010. From http://www. cafemom. com/group/416/forums/read/10714639/Wow_parents_starve_newborn_because_they_didnt_want_a_fat_baby_Update_with_link_to_part_of_moms_inter Telegraph. co. ke (2010). Women have inbuilt fear of being fat. Retrieved on May 6, 2010. From http://www. telegraph. co. uk/health/healthnews/7589523/Women-have-inbuilt-fear-of-being-fat. html


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