EATING DISORDERS - A MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE
DEC 12, 2018 @5.56 PM
Eating disorders are complex medical and psychiatric illnesses that can have serious consequences for health, productivity and relationships.
Disordered eating vs eating disorders
Disordered eating consist of an abnormal eating pattern which includes unhealthy dieting, unhealthy eating habits or skipping meals; and anorexic as well as bulimic behaviours such as laxative and diet pill use, cycles of binge eating and dieting, and self-induced vomiting.
Although used interchangeably, eating disorders are diagnosed clinically with presenting behavioural symptoms and prolonged disordered eating which could lead to pathological eating disorders.
In Disordered eating among urban & rural secondary school children in Selangor, Malaysia, 2016, the author revealed that 19.8% of students in Selangor suffered from disordered eating.
Meanwhile, Dr N. Thiyagar, vice-president for the Malaysian Association for Adolescent Health said a study by the Malaysian Psychiatric Association showed that 1% of the population in the country were affected by anorexia.
Three types of eating disorder
Dr Bharathi S. Vengadasalam, Consultant Psychiatrist at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur described three types of eating disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating.
“Commonly what we see is anorexia nervosa which is self-induced weight loss. They may be overly dieting, purely restricting calorie intake or overly exercising. This goes on to an extent where weight loss is so significant that it affects the menstrual cycle."
“There’s a certain amount of body weight where you can’t hold on to below your BMI of 17.5. The problem has spread to teenage boys as well and is no longer just affecting teenage girls.
This is caused by a disturbed perception of body image whereby the person may feel that they're not thin enough.
"It is a type of mental disorder," she said, explaining further that having anorexia bullosa doesn’t mean that the person don’t have the appetite.
"They actually have a lot of appetite but they suppress it. This can be seen by picking on their food and calorie counting.
On the other hand, Bulimia Nervosa is characterised by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviours such as self-induced vomiting, exerting diuretics and laxatives to undo the effects of binge eating. This, she pointed out, is a matter of control or autonomy of self.
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