Eating disorders are fatal illnesses that cause severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviors. The two most common types of eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Eating disorders are not a fad, a passing phase or a lifestyle choice. They are real complex conditions, which if left untreated can have serious consequences over physical and mental health, productivity and relationships. Potentially, they may also be life threatening.

Anorexia Nervosa, refers to an unhealthy obsession to stay thin, making the sufferers go to extreme to lose and maintain dangerously low body weight. The person’s body image is so distorted that even a skeleton like body would appear as fat in front of them. There is a big difference between ‘being anorexic’ and ‘going on a diet’. A healthy person goes on a diet in an attempt to control weight; an anorexic does so in an attempt to control their life and emotions and as a result of insecurities. Another common disorder is Bulimia Nervosa. This is a condition in which instead of starving, the individual stuff himself/herself with food and then forces it out via induced vomiting or the use of laxatives. However, unlike those suffering from anorexia, a bulimic eats enough to maintain a healthy body weight and at times can be overweight.

Body dissatisfaction remains the best-known contributor to the development of eating disorders such as mentioned above. Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders are not restricted to females only. An estimated 10-15 percent of people with eating disorders are male and they are less likely to seek treatment for it because of the perception that these are “feminine diseases”. Media has to play a vital role to divert people’s perspectives of being beautiful and being too skinny. Awareness must be given to everyone from the start, from school and colleges.

KIRAN FATIMA,

Islamabad, August 28.