What Are Eating Disorders? – Anorexia

Anorexia is an eating disorder described as having very low body weight, this happens because people with this disease are in constant fright of gaining weight. Having this disorder makes patients endlessly find ways to lose weight and lose calories, such as vomiting the food they eat, use laxatives, diet, or not eat at all.

The precise cause of anorexia are unidentified. Although, this condition runs in families. For example patients whom have relatives such as siblings or parents with this condition, are more likely to progress anorexia. There are also psychological factors, where it is reasoned that anorexia is a way for patients to deal with painful childhood memories and experiences. Another psychological factor is where people with anorexia have always had people comment on their weight or the way they look.

This happening makes these people believe that being thinner means being better. Beauty standards also cause anorexia. When communities and the internet view a perfect women or man as thin, and with not body fat, people start changing themselves and not in the right way to try and fit in to their communities, and be like the models they see on social media. In some cultures, being overweight or not thin, means that you are not beautiful, and if you are not beautiful you will never get married or have a future in life.

As for the implications on the human body, anorexia causes a person to have high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, it also causes heart disease. This is because, allowing less calories to enter the body, leaves the body to breakdown its own tissues for energy. The first tissues that are broken down are the muscles, and the most main muscle is the heart. This then causes the heart to have less energy and less tissues to pump blood from. Anorexia also causes the patient to have brittle bones, and reduction of bone density. It also causes muscle loss and weakness of the body. Another implication is kidney failure due to dehydration from consuming less food and nutrients. Also, the weight of the person with anorexia decreases majorly, and if the condition is severe, there is only skin left on the body and the patient becomes extremely thin. (Figure 1)

There are many signs that suggest if a person has anorexia. For the physical signs, people with anorexia are most of the time weak, and feel fatigue. They also have dry hair and nails, and usually hair loss (as seen in figure 2). Additionally, they have “yellow-ish” skin and intolerance of cold temperatures. And the most obvious sign is extreme loss. As for behavior, they usually refuse to eat, skip meals, or deny hunger when they are starving. Furthermore, they keep weighing themselves, and complain about being overweight. People with anorexia usually have lack of emotion or are in a dull mood.

Because this disease is very serious and problematic, it leads to other conditions and problems further along the road. One of the conditions that happen because of anorexia, is anemia. Anemia is the lack of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood (as seen in figure 3). Because hemoglobin carries and transports oxygen, the body will not get enough oxygen. Other things that can happen are brain conditions, neurological, since energy is not consumed, it doesn’t go to the brain, and the brain needs energy to function properly.

This disease does exist in Palestine. In the Arab community, there is always pressure on a women to look a certain way so that she gets married or accepted in her community. I am discussing the statistics involving Palestinian women, since men who are anorexic are neglected and it is a disease that people don’t take seriously when concerning men, therefore no statistics were found on anorexia and men in Palestine.

Based on a study in Al-Najah National University, made in 2018, younger women had higher eating disorder attributes than in older students. And surprisingly, females who study in the scientific field, have less eating disorder probabilities, while females in the non-scientific field had higher eating disorder probabilities. To be more specific, in approximately 2000 female students, 28.6% -38.3% had attitudes for eating disorders. Although, there was a study made in 2013, which suggests that the rate of anorexia among Palestinians is 38.9%.

Cellular respiration is more than one metabolic reaction that happen in the cells of living organisms, to convert sugars and glucose taken from nutrients into ATP, energy (as seen in figure 4). Anorexia is the decreasing of food intake. When no nutrients are being consumed, no sugars or carbohydrates are entering the body, therefore cells cannot use glucose for respiration. When no sugars are consumed, no energy is being produced. And energy is needed to continue throughout the day and have the ability to do things. Products of cellular respiration are water and carbon dioxide, these things are needed to get to the lungs and kidneys to help humans breath and excrete waste from their bodies.

Without these two things, damage will happen to the body, since breathing and the excretion of waste products are not happening in the body.Because the exact cause of anorexia is still unknown, it is hard to find a precise treatment for this condition. But, there are ways to prevent it from happening in the first place and trying to help people who already have it. One of the ways that could help, is noticing if a friend or a member of your family that might have the signs of anorexia, and talking to that person or referring them to a professional to help better his/her condition. Another way is to start raising awareness on beauty standards and the way that they really should be.

As was said before, having to always look a certain way and thinking that that is the only beautiful, causes stress on a person. So telling people around you and on social media that being beautiful is not thin, or being fat is ugly, but every body type is beautiful and should be accepted everywhere. This minimizing social pressure, and people would stop thinking that they have to look a certain way.

In conclusion, anorexia is a serious illness that people have to be mindful of and now how to deal with.

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