Monday, April 27, 2015

Athletes and Eating Disorders

It's particularly ironic that athletes in certain sports are susceptible to eating disorders. Athletes have one goal in mind and they will do whatever it takes to reach that goal, even if it means developing an eating disorder. According to Walden, a treatment facility for people with eating disorders "…athletes- both men and women- may be two to three times more likely to have an eating disorder than the average person…"

Gymnast Kerri Strug Developed an Eating Disorder
It has been proven that women are more likely to develop eating disorders over men. According to the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine women in aesthetic, weight category and endurance sports are at the highest risk to develop an eating disorder. Aesthetic sports include gymnastics and dance; these female athletes are at the absolute highest risk for developing eating disorders. In the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 42% of the athletes who participated in aesthetic sports have an eating disorder. In 1992 gymnast Kerri Strug failed to make the all-around competition in the Olympics. The 14-year-old believed that if she were lighter she would perform better. In 1996 the 4-foot-9-inch athlete weighing 78 pounds won gold at the 1996 Olympics.  

Men athletes can also develop eating disorders. Men in antigravity, weight category, and endurance sports are at the highest risk, especially athletes in weight category sports like wrestling. In the same study conducted by the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine men had significantly lower percentages for eating disorders, but the sports with the most male athletes with eating disorders was weight category with 18 percent. Athletes in weight category sports are at risk because they need to maintain a certain weight to compete against the same competition. 

To me it is very shocking athletes are at such a high risk because sports are supposed to keep you healthy. What do you think about athletes susceptibility to eating disorders?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Connection Between Eating Disorders and Obesity

In my previous post I talked about how the ideal body image the media has instilled in our society has caused people to develop eating disorders. Continuing with the same topic of eating disorders, in this post I am going to discuss how our country's battle with obesity has driven people to eating disorders, specifically children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 17% of children and adolescents had an eating disorder in 2011-2012. With such a high amount of children being obese our country has put more emphasis on being healthier. In fact, First Lady Michelle Obama launched her Let's Move initiative with the intent to solve the obesity problem in this generation. Children are trying to be healthier, but some end up with the other extreme: an eating disorder.

When children try to lose weight some become too focused on it and their "every thought and behavior surrounds eating". The problem with these children is that their parents and/or physicians do not recognize that they are developing an eating disorder because they believe its a good thing the child is losing weight. In order to lose weight in a healthy way the child must exercise and eat healthy, but not eat as little as possible and over exercise. It is important, as a country, that we promote a healthy lifestyle in a healthy way.

In a study from the journal Pediatrics two case studies were presented for teenagers who were obese and through there weight loss developed an eating disorder that went undetected for a very long time by doctors. In both cases there were signs that suggested an eating disorder; however, doctors attributed these symptoms to other causes rather than an eating disorder. Doctors, as well, should be especially aware of excessive weight loss in an obese child so that the eating disorder can be detected as soon as possible.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Ideal Body Image

Supermodel Ideal
With Junior year comes the Junior Theme. This project can be on any topic that has some historical significance, which is why it was so difficult for me to pick a topic. After going through multiple topics I landed on eating disorders. In particular I'm studying "why eating disorders are on the rise?" According to a CQ Researcher article about eating disorders anorexia and bulimia affect nearly 10 million women and 1 million men.

One cause of eating disorders is the ideal body image that we have in our society. With models and actresses being extremely thin, girls and women are striving to be more like them; however, these are truly unrealistic and unhealthy ideals. The average supermodel is 5'10'' and weighs only 120 pounds, while the average women is 5'4'' and 169 pounds. The numbers themselves show how difficult it would be for the average women to reach these ideals. In order for the average woman to have the same body mass index (bmi)  as the average supermodel she would have to lose 69 pounds. The bmi of the supermodel is 17.2 and anything under 18.5 is underweight; so not to mention the difficulty of losing 69 pounds, but those that strive for the ideal body image are striving to be underweight. The way that women and girls are reaching these ideals is by developing eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Curing the Stigma Against Mental Illness

We recently discussed "paginas en blanco [blank pages]" of family history in my American Studies class. A common "pagina en blanco" of families was mental illness. Most of this cover-up was due to the stigma of mental illness at the time, but I'm not sure if the stigma has really gone away.
There are many forms of mental illness

Andreas Lubitz was the co-pilot of the Germanwings Flight who crashed the plane into the French Alps. It has recently become known that Lubitz was struggling with a mental illness. This revelation raises the need for a discussion about the stigma put on mental illness. Why do people with mental illness feel the need to hide it? If they confide in doctors, should the doctors sound an alarm if their patient could harm others? 

In order to fight the stigma of mental illness we need to encourage those who are suffering to open up about it. Not long ago there was a stigma against those who had cancer causing them to not tell anyone about their disease, but now public opinion has changed and everyone is more supportive towards those who have cancer. The way to suppress stigmas of mental illness is to educate the public about what the disease does to a person. In on article on Revelstoke Review a mother was quoted saying "My daughter's struggle with severe depression was more difficult for me than my husband's sudden death." The problem with our society is that when a person has a mental illness people tend to stay far away instead of comforting or being there for them. 

There is also a problem that health care providers face when it come to doctor-patient confidentiality. If they feel that someone could be a threat to others there are policies in place that inhibit them from telling anyone. It may be necessary for policy to change in order to allow doctors to identify ill parents that could be harmful to others. At the same time we have to provide a society where someone with a disability can reveal their struggle while still living a normal life.