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The frequency of eating disorders in women and men

Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.

First version: 22 Jul 2008. Latest revision: 08 Aug 2008.

Question:

 Why is it mostly women who develop eating disorders?

Answer:

Over 90 % of those who develop eating disorders are young women. A contributory cause is that young women try to be beautiful and slim by means of a course of slimming diets and these often cause eating disorders to begin. Their ideal of slimness doesn't correspond with the body's natural needs, and therefore young women try to suppress their nutritional needs in order to achieve slimness. Once they have begun to suppress their nutritional needs, an eating disorder arises which later becomes permanent, whether or not they have achieved their ideal. That's how a diet can be the start of an eating disorder.

Example: Eve reads a fashion magazine containing photographs of super slim models and thinks that she is too fat. She tries to follow the magazine's diet advice and loses about 15 kg in a few months. She receives lots of compliments and is encouraged to continue. However, Eve finds that one day she can't resist her intense hunger any longer and eats compulsively. When she has satisfied her hunger, she continues to eat to avoid the intense anxiety due to her failure to stay with the diet. More. In her despair she tries to vomit to get rid of the food. Eve has got stuck in a pattern of starving, compulsive eating and vomiting, which she is unable to break. She is continuously terrified of putting on weight.

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