ANOREXIA NERVOSA: CONSIDERATIONS OF CULTURE,
This research examines the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. The condition is described and defined in the following section. Cultural aspects of the eating disorder are examined, as are cross-cultural differences in the prevalence of anorexia nervosa. Gender differences in the incidence of anorexia nervosa also are explored, with attention given to the social construction of the eating disorder.
Anorexia Nervosa: Description and Definition
Eating disorders are characterized by severe disturbances in eating behavior (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 539). Eating disorders exist along a continuum on which the end points are anorexia nervosa, characterized by self-starvation, and bulimia nervosa, characterized by binge eating and purging of the system (Stacey, 1994, p. 177).
The essential characteristics of anorexia nervosa are that an individual refuses to maintain minimally normal body weight, has an intense fear of gaining weight, and exhibits a significance psychological disturbance in relation to the self-perception of body shape or size (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 539). The general guideline for a determination that a person is underweight in relation to a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa is a weight of less than 85 percent of the weight that is considered to be normal for that person's age and height as calculated from Metropolitan Life Insurance tables. A specific determination that an individual is underweight in relation to a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa must be made by a clinician as the general guideline is not applicable to every situation.
Weight loss by anorexics is typically accomplished through a reduction in total food intake (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 540). In some instances, however, anorexic individuals exclude from their diets foods perceived to be high in caloric value, and lose weight through adherence to ...