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Eating disorders

Eating disorders have been given considerable attention in the literature in recent years as the extent of the problem has become more evident. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia have generally been associated with the adolescent years of growth, although they may occur in the early to mid-adult years as well. An eating disorder is defined as a disturbance in eating behavior that jeopardizes a person's physical or psychological health. The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has identified four eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, pica, and rumination disorder. Pica is the ingestion of non-nutritive substances such as plaster, paint, or clay, and rumination disorder is the chronic regurgitation of nutrients, usually seen in infancy. Of greater frequency are anorexia and bulimia, each with its own diagnostic criteria and potential medical hazards.

Anorexia nervosa is the best known of the eating disorders and is found most frequently among middle-to-upper-class white female adolescents. The disease carries a 19 female-to-male ratio with a prevalence estimated at one percent among adolescent girls; it is believed that the disorder is becoming more prevalent (Harris, 1991: p. 30). Anorexia nervosa is defined as a psychoneurotic disorder characterized by prolonged refusal to eat, resulting in emaciation, amenorrhea, emotional disturbance concerning body image, and an abnormal fear of becoming obese (Mosby's Medical and Nursing Dictionary, 1986). The disorder was uncommon until recent years, but it was so striking that its clinical features were described quite early ("Anorexia nervosa: 20th century scourge," 1990: p. 40).

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by repeated and frequent episodes of binge eating of large quantities of food, at least two episodes per week for a period of at least three months, often followed by purging, usually by...

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Eating disorders. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:54, May 31, 2020, from