Anorexia and bulimia: when the mirror lies

Eating disorders of eating (ACT) are nowadays one of the main causes of mortality in young people, after traffic accidents and cancer. Experts point out that the prevalence of anorexia and bulimia It has exploded during the last decade to the point of becoming an epidemic.

Today, one or two out of every hundred adolescents in developed countries they perceive their distorted image when they contemplate themselves in the mirror. The early diagnosis and treatment of anorexia and bulimia are fundamental to multiply the possibilities of cure.

"Even though it was all bone and skin, I looked at myself in the mirror and I kept seeing my thighs, my gut and my horrible butt, I did not realize my condition," recalls Paloma, 32, not long ago. he managed to escape from the clutches of anorexia. As she herself says, her whole life had been "a plump person" and the insults of her older brother, with whom, as usual, she always walked around, they did not contribute to improving her self-esteem. When he turned 22 years old, he seriously proposed to lose weight and, his family and friends can attest to that, he got it: with 1.57 cm of height he barely reached over 42 kilos.


Anorexia and bulimia, diseases that kill

Ten years later, Paloma is cured, but she continues to control everything she eats. Anorexia has marked it for life, but even so, it can be considered lucky, since not all patients manage to get ahead: according to statistics, one in five cases of anorexia and one in four of bulimia become chronic. Worse still: in a period of ten years of evolution of the disorder, Between 4 and 10% of people suffering from anorexia die, while 5% of bulimics die after five years.

Too many deaths to not take seriously these disorders, which alter body image and cause an obsessive fear of gaining weight in those who suffer. According to studies on the subject, nine out of ten affected are women who, victims of this disorder, perceive certain parts of their body distorted. Above all, abdomen, hips, buttocks and thighs are much larger than real size.


This alteration precipitates them well not to taste food as soon as possible. restrictive anorexics- alternating periods of fasting with uncontrolled binge eating, which then causes them great remorse -as happens with the compulso-purgative anorexics and to the bulimic-. In this second case, young women end up provoking vomiting with their fingers or taking a large amount of laxatives and diuretics to counteract the high intake of food.

Eating disorders of behavior are no longer hidden

Dr. Villasmil, head of Endocrinology and Nutrition at the Virgen del Rocío University Hospital in Seville and responsible for the Anorexia Unit in the organic-nutritional aspect of this center, insists that, despite appearances, "anorexia and bulimia do not they are whims of silly girls who do not want to eat, but one more disease ". According to the expert, the increase in prevalence is explained by the fact that now "many more patients are receiving treatment than before, when bulimia was considered an embarrassing disease that had to be hidden".


The performance of the media has a lot to do with this change of attitude toward eating disorders. According to Dr. Encarna Mollejo, a child psychiatrist head of the Mental Health Service of Arganda del Rey (Madrid), the media have indeed influenced the problem, "but in two different ways: on the one hand, they have favored information on slimming diets and low calorie meals, that influence a lot among adolescents, very vulnerable for the evolutionary moment they live, in which the identity is not well defined and they look for models to follow; But, what many magazines that we find in the bookstores are the slender figures, the be handsome and thin. On the other hand, the media have also contributed to a wider dissemination of the pathology. Now more girls are coming who are starting with the disease. "

Triggers of anorexia and bulimia

Far from blaming the media exclusively, experts insist that in the appearance of the TCA, several factors are combined, both individual (personality, biological, genetic ...) and family and sociocultural. That is to say, people with anorexia and bulimia present some psychological and psychiatric conditioning factors that, in an environment where thinness is desired, can lead to anorexia or bulimia.

As Dr. Villasmil affirms, the same society "advises badly and induces many silly things to be committed". Indeed, it is not surprising that the prevalence of eating disorders increases in a social context in which, at the overvaluation of physical appearance and body worship, the deterioration of the traditional value system, the recent modification of eating habits and the decline of the educational and communicative role of the family are added.

The tendency towards disintegration in this area leads, often, to parents' lack of attention to problems that their children are unable to face without help, such as situations of stress, incidents with classmates and friends or amorous failures. These conflicts can act as triggers for eating disorders, as they sometimes lead them to think that they would not have happened if their bodies were different. Also parents too worried about their physical appearance They can transmit this attitude, and the consequent eating habits, to their children.

Marisol Nuevo Espín
Advice: doctor Fernando Villasmil, Head of Endocrinology and Nutrition of the Virgen del Rocío University Hospital in Seville

Video: eating disorder struggles they don’t tell you about


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