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Legalities of life, our choices and our future

Feb 11, 2011, 1:30 PM

Anorexia Nervosa

Just the other day, I was watching a hip and highly popular reality cable TV show centered around the high street and up end world of fashion and multi-media. In this particular episode, a young girl was particularly obsessed about her weight and even though she weighed barely more than 125 lbs, she felt she was overweight compared to the average model. I found this notion amusing, and then I remembered something from the past.


Growing up, I always felt confident especially with regards to my person and my physical attributes. I was totally fine with how I was built, tall and slim with proportional attributes. Others weren’t of the same opinion however. Apparently I was too ‘skinny’. As is customary in most African cultures, women were thought to be more attractive of they were fuller and had ample curves.


The reverse is true in most western societies with the slender long legged look being in vogue. However, surprisingly enough as with the adaptation of most western cultures, the trend is gaining momentum in our continent too. With more and more young


Girls aspiring to pursue modeling careers or be engaged in employment opportunities were slenderness is an advantage.  I also noticed that the amount of fitness centers which have sprung up recently and which promote weight loss and fitter physiques have increased significantly. Staying fit, healthy and in shape is an amazing thing, healthy being the operative word. As with the adaptation of anything, with the benefits come potential downsides. One of such is Anorexia Nervosa.


Anorexia Nervosa, an ailment that has plagued girls, young women and more frequently recently men is one that is very sensitive. This illness has been researched and publicized for decades with strives to better prevent, detect and treat this illness being made and better alternatives continually sourced.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsessive compulsive fear of gaining weight, often coupled with a distorted self image which may be maintained by various cognitive biases that alter how the affected individual evaluates and thinks about her or his body, food and eating. Persons with anorexia nervosa continue to feel hunger, but deny themselves all but very small quantities of food or in extreme cases, complete self-starvation. This illness is a very serious illness, mostly mental based with quite a high mortality rate.


Studies have suggested that the initial weight loss such as dieting may be the triggering factor in developing anorexia. In other cases, it is possibly due to an already inherent predisposition toward anorexia.


An individual this ailment may exhibit a number of symptoms with varying severity levels that can cause complications, including the scaring of knuckles due to forced regurgitation, Dramatic and speedy loss weight in an individual, the growth of excess skin hair as a form of protective insulation, a keen obsession with the specific contents of meals and the level of fat it contains primarily, embarking on a weight loss diet despite being under weight to begin with, self induced vomiting or use of diet pills and laxatives, frequent, strenuous exercise, depression:, frequently be in a sad, lethargic state and prefer solitude to socially active gatherings and swollen cheeks  due to enlarged salivary glands. These symptoms are not conclusive however with other signs being subtle. 


People in professions where there is a particular social pressure to be thin are much more likely to develop anorexia during the course of their career, and further research has suggested that those with anorexia have much higher contact with cultural sources that promote weight-loss. Anorexia is also believed to be highly heritable. Anorexia is also linked to Autism, a psychiatry disorder, with similar traits being detected.

Treatment for anorexia nervosa tries restoring the person to a healthy weight; treating the psychological disorders related to the illness and reduce or eliminate behaviors or thoughts that originally led to the disorder. Therapy is primary to this treatment.


Anorexia can go un-detected and untreated and become fatal eventually. Sadly, such has been the instance in many tragic cases with reported fatalities arising from extreme deficiencies from starvation or organ failures.


So, it might be due to severe self esteem issues (the need to be acceptable and to please), hereditary or just a need to have the 'perfect' look which went awfully wrong. Whatever, the reason, Anorexia is real and tragic. So the very next time a person asks you if they need to loose weight, think carefully before you utter an opinion. Your words might well save or sever a precious life.