Eating disorders has increased in Africa since 1990’s. Eating disorders is a global issue, that affects every tribe and color. Recent research estimates that over 27 million people in the United States have an eating disorder, and the rate of children living with eating disorders is on the rise. If you are a parent who is concerned that your child may be suffering from disordered eating, it’s important to know the facts and what signs to look for.
What Are Eating Disorders?
We can literally describe this as any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. Further definition explains Eating disorders as a complex, biologically-based mental illnesses that can cause severe harm.It is treatable by professionals.
Eating Disorders in Africa
In Africa, Eating Disorders have been increasing since the 1990’s. With Africa ever increasing population, studies have shown that body dissatisfaction has grown within the population, especially among various ethnic groups. Rates of eating disorder diagnoses are believed to be continually climbing in part due to population growth, but these rates are in variance with those of Westernized countries.
In the 1990s, a study was done looking at the rates of childhood obesity on a government school-based weight loss program called Trim and Fit (TAF). It was a disaster in terms of addressing childhood obesity, and researchers suggest that it may have contributed to the current status of eating disorders.
Further researcher shows that females are highest victims of Eating Disorders. We see teenagers with the stereotypes of imitating beauty models and getting addicted to fashion, they go into excessive dieting which have a strong or far-reaching effect and sometimes curse irreversible damages to their health.
The consequences are both short-term and long-term.
Types of Eating Disorders and Their Signs and Symptoms
1. Anorexia Nervosa
This can be simply referred to as anorexia. It is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight or getting fat. A mental and emotional disorder characterized by self-starvation. An eating disorder that revolves around reducing calorie intake and an obsession with weight. Anorexia is like an addictive and a complex eating disorder that affects millions of people each year in Africa and around the world. Between 75 percent and 80 percent of all cases occur among women, most often during adolescence or the twenties. This is typical in the early phase when the sufferer is still in denial.
Sadly, it is among the most deadly of all mental illnesses. Typical signs of anorexia are a pursuit of thinness, intense exercising, diet pills and refusal to maintain an appropriate body weight and disturbed eating behavior. People with this disorder will usually feeling worried, preoccupied or sad about body shape or weight.
Anorexia features include:
- Keeping away from eating with others
- Keeping within bounds or restricting the types or amount of food eaten
- Feeling guilty after eating
- Always taking diet pills or other substances to control body weight
- Over conscious of their body shape and weight
- Perceiving their body differently compared to the way others view them
- Taking pleasure cooking for others but not for themselves
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2. Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia is the most prevalent eating disorder and it is generally characterized by enormous food consumption, followed by self-induced fasting, vomiting, purging, regular use of laxatives and over-exercising. Individuals with Bulimia encounter several physical complications from controlling body weight in an unhealthy manner, and most of these problems resolve once eating habits, and weight has returned to normal.
Who is affected?
Male and female can be bulimic. Researchers estimate that more women will develop bulimia nervosa at some point in their lives. In men, the rate of diagnosis is only about one-tenth the rate in women. It is often more difficult to notice, or diagnose, as people affected by it are often very secretive about their eating behaviour.
Here are characteristics of the illness, along with warning signs to look out for:
- Kidney and Heart Complications: Depriving oneself from food and drink, vomiting and other forms of purging result in loss of fluid and crucial minerals from the body. Chronic dehydration and low potassium levels can lead to kidney stones and even kidney failure. This may cause weakness and fatigue. Severe alkalosis and potassium deficiency can lead to an uneven heart rate or sudden death.
- Injury to intestine and stomach: Laxative abuse is harmful and gives disorder to the body’s mineral balance damaging the lining of the digestive tract. Also, frequent vomiting commonly cause gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining.
3. Binge Eating Disorder
This is characterized by regular episodes of extreme overeating and feelings of loss of control about eating. When your child uses food as a coping mechanism, and feeling out of control with food.
4. Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder
OSFED like avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, body image disorders, and food phobias, are becoming more and more commonly identified. When behaviors do not meet full criteria for any of the other feeding and eating disorders, but still cause clinically significant problems, they may be called “Other Eating Disorders. OSFED is a category for eating disorders that don’t meet the criteria for Anorexia, Bulimia and BED
Warning Signs in Eating Disorder
Visits the toilet immediately after meals
Weight changes. Any abnormal or unexplained weight changes (weight gain, loss or stunted gain despite growth) may be a result of disordered eating in children.
Strange food behaviors. Children who suffer from eating disorders often develop unusual behaviors or rituals around food and mealtimes. They may decide they don’t like several foods, spend a long time rearranging meals, develop a sudden interest in restrictive diets, and/or you may notice large quantities of food go missing quickly.
Avoidance of food. They always feel more comfortable giving others food but refuse eating
Compulsive behaviors. Complaining about stomach pain and constipation.
Personality changes. People suffering from an eating disorder will often distance themselves from others.
Treatment If Your Child Has an Eating Disorder
Early intervention is the best thing you can do for your child. Very few clinicians have the up-to-date knowledge required to gauge how urgent or serious this is. You need a referral to a specialist right away. If you believe your child has an eating disorder, the most important thing you can do is start a dialogue about it. Express your care and concern by talking to your child, listen and know why they deny food, reiterate that you want to help them and are there to support them. You may need to have several conversations with them. Also, monitor your teenage child’s use of the social media and TV shows like fashion and weight loss programs.
Unfortunately, some children learn at a very young age that happiness and self-worth comes from attaining a certain body shape.While talking to your child about your concerns is essential, parents should be a role model. Children learn a lot from their parents. They examine your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors toward your own body. If you’re constantly criticizing yourself or others, dieting or engaging in other similar behaviors, your child will learn to do the same. Set a good example for your child by practicing positive, healthy attitudes and behaviors such as sensible eating, exercise and self-acceptance.