These conditions include maternal anemia, maternal diabetes, and maternal high blood pressure during pregnancy, which increase the risk of anorexia in the child. After-birth complications in the newborn infant such as heart problems, low response to stimuli, early difficulties in eating, and below-normal birth weight have also been found to increase the risk of anorexia and bulimia (Ibid.)
Genetic Reasons Some experts consider genetics to be the root cause of most cases of eating disorders and anorexia has been found to be "eight times more common in people who have relatives with the disorder" (Ibid., para on Genetic Factors). Certain specific chromosomes (e.g., regions chromosome 10) have been identified that may be associated with bulimia and anorexia. In addition, genetic factors may be responsible for certain behavioral patterns such as anxiety and obsession or traits such as minimum body mass index that are precursors to development of eating disorders.
Psychological Reasons: Psychological factors such as low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life, depression, anxiety, anger, or loneliness are believed to be major reasons behind the development of eating disorders ("Causes of Eating Disorders" 2008).
Cultural Pressures: Cultural pressure in Western societies, where 'thinness' especially in women is depicted as beautiful, is one of the main reasons for triggering eating disorders. The media, in particular, glorifies thinness, presents anorexic young models as the paradigm of sexual desirability, and bombards the consumers with advertisements of weight-reducing products almost non-stop.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment of eating disorders is difficult because the patients suffering from anorexia or bulimia, in particular, consider their emaciated condition as normal or even desirable and show resistance to any treatment. The first step in treatment of eating disorders, therefore, is the necessity of impressing upon the patient and/or her family the serious harmful effects of the condition. The other important aspect of treatment of eating disorders is that it is often long drawn out and does not offer instant cure; hence the patient or her family should not be given or have unrealistic expectations about a treatment.
In general, treatment of most eating disorders involves some type of psychiatric or psychological therapy along with a regimen of medications; the type and dosage of medicine depending on the type disorder and the severity of the condition.
In an anorexic patient, nutritional intervention is necessary for restoring normal weight to help reduce bone loss and raise energy levels and to enable the patient to benefit from a psychotherapeutic treatment program that may follow. Dietary supplements such as Calcium and multivitamins are often given to underweight patients; in more severe cases, tubal or intravenous feeding may become necessary.
Psychological treatment includes family therapy employing cognitive-behavioral techniques for younger patients and individual support therapy for older patients. Drug therapy for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa includes the use of anti-depressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac), anti-anxiety drugs, and sometimes even anti-psychotic drugs in severe cases. It is also important to restore normal menstruation in anorexic women and girls; this is achieved by restoring normal weight and/or hormonal drugs containing estrogen and progestin ("Treatment for Anorexia")
Because of the seriousness of the problem and the difficulty and expense involved in effective treatment of eating disorders, it is important to concentrate on the prevention of the condition. Of course, the most effective 'prevention' of anorexia in particular would be a change in our cultural obsession with slenderness. At the individual level, children should be regularly checked for body mass index (BMI) and their eating habits monitored by parents in order to provide early warning of problems. Parents can also inculcate a healthy body image in their children by protecting them from being teased about their appearance and teaching them the pitfalls of dieting. Symptoms of anxiety, depression or other mood disorders in children, which often accompany eating disorders, should not be ignored ("Treatment for Anorexia" 2006).
As we saw in this paper, eating disorders in the U.S. And other developed countries have assumed alarming proportions in recent times. Increasing cases of anorexia and bulimia among adolescent girls, in particular, are a cause of major concern. The health effect of these eating disorders is very serious in most cases and their diagnoses and treatment are difficult. It is best, therefore, to try and prevent the condition by fighting the unhealthy obsession with slenderness in our society and inculcating healthy eating habits in our children.
Anorexia Nervosa." (2008). National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved on December 6, 2008 at http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/p.asp?WebPage_ID=286&Profile_ID=41142
Binge Eating Disorder." (2008). Mayo Clinic.com. Retrieved on December 6, 2008 at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/binge-eating-disorder/DS00608/DSECTION=tests-and-diagnosis
Bulimia Nervosa" (2008). National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved on December 6, 2008 at http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/p.asp?WebPage_ID=286&Profile_ID=41141
Causes of Eating Disorders." (2006). University of Maryland: Medical Center. Retrieved on December 6, 2008 at http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_causes_eating_disorders_000049_3.htm
Levey, Robert. (2006). "Anorexia Nervosa." e-Medicine. Retrieved on December 6, 2008 at http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic144.htm
Media's Obsession with Weight puts Women in Danger." (2008). The Spectrum & Daily News. Retrieved on December 6, 2008 at http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20081112/OPINION/811120328
Statistics: Eating Disorder and their Precursors." (2008). National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved on December 6, 2008 at http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/p.asp?WebPage_ID=286&Profile_ID=41138
Treatment for Anorexia." (2006). University of Maryland: Medical Center. Retrieved on December 6, 2008 at http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_specific_treatments_patients_with_anorexia_000049_10.htm
Other eating disorders, not yet officially recognized as medical conditions include, orthorexia nervosa -- an unhealthy obsession with eating only healthy food; hyperphagia -- an abnormal appetite and excessive ingestion of food; and pica -- a craving for non-nutritive substances such as soil, coal, feces, chalk, paper or soap.
The electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium from the body -- a natural consequence of the purging behavior