Eating disorders and obesity: How are they related?

Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide.
Eating disorders and obesity are usually seen as very different problems but actually share many similarities. In fact, eating disorders, obesity, and other weight-related disorders may overlap as girls move from one problem, such as unhealthy dieting, to another, such as obesity.


Obesity means having an abnormally high proportion of body fat. A person is considered obese if he or she has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by height in meters squared.

Anorexia nervosa is self-starvation. People with this disorder eat very little even though they are thin. They have an intense and overpowering fear of body fat and weight gain.

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by cycles of binge eating and purging, either by vomiting or taking laxatives or diuretics (water pills). People with bulimia have a fear of body fat even though their size and weight may be normal.

Binge eating disorder means eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, usually alone, without being able to stop when full. The overeating and bingeing are often accompanied by feeling out of control and followed by feelings of depression, guilt, or disgust.

Disordered eating refers to troublesome eating behaviors, such as restrictive dieting, bingeing, or purging, which occur less frequently or are less severe than those required to meet the full criteria for the diagnosis of an eating disorder.

How are eating disorders and obesity related?

Eating disorders and obesity are part of a range of weight-related problems.

These problems include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, anorexic and bulimic behaviors, unhealthy dieting practices, binge eating disorder and obesity.Adolescent girls may suffer from more than one disorder or may progress from one problem to another at varying degrees of severity.It is important to understand this range of weight related problems in order to avoid causing one disorder, such as bulimia, while trying to prevent another, such as obesity.

Binge eating is common among people with eating disorders and people who are obese.

People with bulimia binge eat and then purge by vomiting, using laxatives, or other means. Binge eating that is not followed by purging may also be considered an eating disorder and can lead to weight gain. More than one-third of obese individuals in weight-loss treatment programs report difficulties with binge eating.This type of eating behavior contributes to feelings of shame, loneliness, poor self-esteem, and depression. Conversely, these kinds of feelings can cause binge eating problems. A person may binge or overeat for emotional reasonsincluding stress, depression, and anxiety.

Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders are associated with both eating disorders and obesity.

Adolescents who are depressed may be at an increased risk of becoming obese. One recent study found that depressed adolescents were two times more likely to become obese at the one year follow up than teens who did not suffer from depression. In addition, many people with eating disorders suf

fer from clinical depression, anxiety, personality or substance abuse disorders, or in some cases obsessive compulsive disorder. Therefore, a mental health professional may need to be involved in treating an adolescent who is obese or suffers from an eating disorder or other weight-related problem.

The environment may contribute to both eating disorders and obesity.

The mass media, family, and peers may be sending children and adolescents mixed messages about food and weight that encourage disordered eating. Today's society idealizes thinness and stigmatizes fatness, yet high-calorie foods are widely available and heavily advertised. At the same time, levels of physical activity are at record lows as television and computers replace more active leisure activities, travel by automobile has replaced walking, and many communities lack space for walking and recreation.

Most teens don't suffer from either anorexia or obesity. They are more likely to engage in disordered eating behaviors such as bingeing, purging, and dieting. These behaviors are associated with serious physical and emotional health problems. We've got to get back to three square meals a day, healthy meal planning, nutritious snacks, and regular physical activity”.

- by Richard Kreipe, MD, Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center.

Health Risks

Eating disorders may lead to :

· Delayed menstruation

· Damage to vital organs such

  as the heart and brain.

· Nutritional deficiencies,

  including starvation

· Cardiac arrest

· Stunted growth

· Emotional problems such as

  depression and anxiety 
Approximately 95% of those affected by anorexia are female.

Obesity increases the risk for :

· High blood pressure

· Stroke

· Cardiovascular disease

· Gallbladder disease

· Diabetes

· Respiratory problems

· Arthritis

· Cancer

· Emotional problems such as

  depression and anxiety


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Tips to healthy lifestyle

Exercise… will reduce our risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Health is a very important thing to be maintained for everyone and being healthy is the greatest gift that God has given for us. As the best gift, we should take care of it carefully .There are many things that we must do to make sure that our health condition is remaining fine. So, the golden truth is one should follow the tips below:

Eat sensibly. Make use of a food pyramid and calorie chart to prepare tasty and nutritious meals.

Eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. They will supply you with essential vitamins, minerals, and  protection from several diseases.

Maintain your weight at a healthy level. Successful weight management is one of the golden keys to good health.

Learn self control, eat moderate portions. The secret lies in eating everything but in small portions. Don’t give way to gluttony or greed.

Make a time-table for your meals and how many calories will be in each meal. Eat when your body demands sustenance but not huge.

Be sure your meals each day include all the food groups. Please refer to food guide pyramid.

Plan to exercise every day. Either walk or take up aerobics, dancercise, or join a gym. Exercise will burn calories and also removes accumulated toxins from your body.

Drinking lots of water is a must to avoid dehydration. At least we should drink eight glasses of water per day.

Be alert about the amount of sleep that we should get which is a minimum of six hours per day.

Eat fish twice a week. Fish are rich source of omega-3 fatty acids-proven to reduce the risk of dry-eye syndrome. If you can’t stand fish, try fish-oil supplements.

Check your blood pressure every month. You can do this at home with a do-it-yourself monitor cuff. High blood pressure, if  uncheck, can damage vessels in the eye.

Quit smoking. It can cause lung cancer, other cancers and illnesses.