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Anorexia is a psychological disorder in which a distorted body images causes a person to believe they are fat, even though their weight is at or below accepted limits (Sifton, 2001). It is most common among young women, and usually starts in adolescence or the early 20s. It occurs across all social classes and ethnic groups. There may be a familial link to anorexia, and there is recent evidence of a genetic linkage (McCaffree, 2001). Researchers in the Netherlands and Germany have found a link between the agouti-related protein (AGRP) gene and the susceptibility to anorexia. Health professionals usually believe there are a variety of factors involved in the development of anorexia, including genetic and/or biological factors, while psychologists tend to believe children learn food behaviors from their parents. A cultural factor may come into play because anorexia is not found in developing countries where food is in short supply.

In the United States, most anorexics are young white women, although there is an increasing trend among African American and Hispanic women, and even men to become anorexic as the media constantly plays up the model of thinness as the ideal (McCaffree, 2001). Males are often under-diagnosed because of the common thought that it is a disease affecting young women (Eliot and Baker, 2001). In a study by these researchers, 55 percent of the eating disorders diagnosed in males were anorexia. Males tend to diet defensively, either because family members have been warned of the dangers of being overweight, or for participation in sports where excess weight causes problems. Males are also less likely to admit having a problem and seek help.

Symptoms of anorexia include unexplained loss of more than 25 percent of body weight, fear of being overweight, thinking of one's body as being fat when it is not, compulsive exercising, and cessation of menstruation in females (Sifton, 2001). Other physica...

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ANOREXIA. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:56, May 27, 2020, from