Cultural Roots of Eating Disorders and Prevalence

It is the most common type of eating disorder which is common among females more than males. It is the condition when the person thinks that they are overweight and obese even if they are dreadfully thin. They tend to monitor their weights regularly and follow strict diets with obsession and sometimes they tend to starve. There are two categories of anorexia nervosa, they are, the restricting type and the binge eating and purging type. The restricting type tends to avoid food completely and also restricts them without eating even in social gatherings. The binge eating and purging types tend to overeat and then compel themselves to vomit or use diuretics. People with anorexia nervosa tend to develop obsessive-compulsive disorders where they never get satisfied with their weight and develop an obsession with dieting and exercising. It is a dreadful mental disorder as it might develop malnutrition and would even cause organ failures in the long run which can even cause death.

Bulimia Nervosa
Another common eating disorder among teens and early adults is Bulimia nervosa, a condition where the person binge eats and gobble a large quantity of food that is more than a normal quantity. They eat until their stomach hurts and tend to ease the gut discomfort by puking or using laxatives. They tend to maintain their calories. Unlike anorexia, these individuals are not underweight but they tend to have the same characteristics as binge eating and purging type as in anorexia. Some of the clinical threats of these disorders could be swollen gut, tooth decay, hormonal and electrolyte imbalances. Some of the severe cases would even lead to heart attacks and cause death. Other than these two major eating disorders there are other eating disorders that have to be highlighted. They include Binge Eating Disorder (BED), pica, purging disorders, rumination disorders, avoidant/ restricted food intake disorder, night eating disorders, and so on.

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Cultural Roots of Eating Disorders:

There have been various causes of eating disorders such as Culture, Society, Genetics, psychological and mental health conditions like stress, OCD, etc. Out of all the major factors, the first and the foremost light are given towards the cultural factors. It decides on how one looks in the eyes of society. It depends on the ethnic, racial, and national cultures which also change across various periods of time without being constant. Culture is considered as the significant etiological factor for the development of an eating disorder. It is very important to know the prevalence of eating disorders based on culture as an etiological factor for analyzing and planning preventive measures. One major and tremendous impact on eating disorders was created by the models and media in the westernized culture and heritage. There has been a vast range of changes in the beauty spectra when it was analyzed from pre-historic and historic times to date by sociologists. The definition of beauty has taken various forms and has created a major impact on teens in the modern world. Fashionable outfits and celebrity weddings through social media have changed the mindset among the youth irrespective of their economic status. A Thin body with perfect curves is what is considered attractive. Zero sizes and collar bones have been a major trend. Hence, various cultures through various media platforms have incorporated into the minds of young adults and have been trying to re-frame themselves as whom they see to be attractive. This has been a major causal factor in eating disorders. Researches have studied the impact of family pressure on eating and commenting on their children’s body shape has created a major impact and causal factor of eating disorders. The embarrassment on body image to convert them into a healthy being has been carried out by parents belonging to a healthy and fit culture. Embarrassment on a regular basis would in fact create a negative image about the self and tend to create an inferiority complex within the family itself. This would not be realized by the children until they reach an adolescent age after which they would realize and develop eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa where they tend to starve. They emotionally and physically tend to segregate from family and friends and tend to avoid social gatherings. They would feel as if they lost their identity and get controlled by other people’s judgments and opinions. Hence, family tradition and culture play a major role in the development of an eating disorder from the children’s childhood and develops more during adolescents. Some researchers have found that eating disorders would also arise due to family circumstances such as when parents substance abuse and harm or ill-treat their children. This would cause depression and they might binge eat for overcoming depression. People experiencing marital conflicts, divorces, domestic violence are more prone to eating disorders. Individuals who underwent PTSD or sexual abuse and childhood trauma experience severe eating disorders as they are more prone to anxiety disorders.

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