Abnormal eating behaviours are typically caused by a combination of factors, including social norms promoting thinness (media and advertising), personality vulnerabilities, distortions of perceived appearance, overvaluing the benefits of weight or shape change, and dieting itself, especially at critical stages of development. Together, these factors can lead to self-sustaining eating disorders, most commonly anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
The key feature of the major eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia nervosa, is a phobic fear of fatness that leads to self-induced starvation or binging and purging. Abnormal eating behaviours typically begin as dieting spurred by social norms and personal vulnerabilities and then gradually become coping mechanisms for problems in self-esteem, interpersonal relationships and mood regulation. These behaviours are continued in a determined pursuit of thinness and an irrational fear of becoming fat.
Being overweight has the following risk factors for many important disorders, including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, and, in women, endometrial carcinoma. Morbid obesity, (a weight greater than twice what is deemed normal) can lead to potentially fatal cardiopulmonary disease.
Mildly to moderately overweight persons may require intervention only if their weight is causing or worsening other medical conditions, and generally benefit by increasing physical activity and decreasing fat consumption without the chronic hunger of dieting. Generally, dieting proves ineffective, costly, burdensome and is often undertaken in an unhealthy manner.
At Learning Discoveries we recognise eating disorders and understand their potential complications and we have found that the earlier an eating disorder is recognised and suitable individualised programmes implemented, the better the person will do.