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Eating and Weight Control Problems

Eating And Weight Control Problems

Eating and Weight Control Problems

Problems with food, eating, and weight control are more problmatic that in in the U.S. than in any other country.  Based on percentages alone you are probably one of the over 66% of Americans who have a weight issue.

About Eating and Weight Control Problems

An eating problem reflects itself as a preoccupation with, and/or a problem with, body weight, shape and diet. Typically, if you have an eating disorder, you'll have unhealthy eating behavior. This may include overeating or an extreme and unhealthy reduction of the amount of food you eat. Either way, you feel bad about your eating, body shape, weight -- or all three. How and why you eat is affected by many factors including appetite, family training, eating pasterns, friends, cultural issues, your health, and your biological and psychological makeup.

Types of Eating Problems

The main types of eating problems are obesity and excess weight, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating. Most often, eating problems develop during the childhood and teenage years, but many people do not experience these problems until adulthood. Eating disorders frequently show up along with other mental health issues.

Obesity and excess weight gain is a problem for a great many men and women. Obesity may be the result of bad eating pasterns, health problem, and/or psychological issues. As part of a vicious cycle, the condition of obesity itself can, in turn, lead to its own set of health and psychological problems.

Anorexia nervosa is the other side of the weight coin. It exists when a person views him/her self as overweight, even though they are often dangerously thin. It is a serious, often chronic, eating disorder that is far more common in girls and women. For people with anorexia nervosa, eating and not eating becomes an obsession. Often, unusual or particular eating habits, and other weight control habits develop. These can include avoiding food and meals, picking out a few foods and eating only these foods in small quantities, repeatedly checking body weight, intense and compulsive exercise, purging by means of vomiting, and abuse of laxatives, enemas, and diuretics.

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which people binge eat, and later purge by vomiting or by using laxatives to offset the impact of the food that they have eaten. People with bulimia usually weigh within the normal range for their age and height. However, like anorexics, bulimics are usually afraid of gaining weight, want to lose weight, and feel intensely dissatisfied with their bodies. People with bulimia usually perform both binge eating and purging secretly.

Binge-eating typically involves recurrent episodes of out-of-control eating, with the same binge-eating symptoms as those with bulimia. The main difference when compared to bulimia is that binge-eaters do not purge their bodies of excess calories. Therefore, many with the disorder tend to be overweight. Binge-eating disorder is associated with feelings of self-disgust and shame and these feelings in turn often trigger additional binge-eating, creating a vicious cycle.

Mental health professionals do not know exactly why some people move beyond normal eating behavior. We do know that this is a complex process, and usually no one factor is the cause or reason. We also know that eating disorders, like obesity, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, are real problems that are treatable.

Treatment of Eating Problems

Eating disorders are complex, and treating them involves the development of a comprehensive plan that involves psychological support, psychological interventions, nutritional counseling, and, when necessary, medical care and monitoring. People with eating disorders often do not recognize or admit that they are ill. As a result, they may strongly resist getting and staying in treatment. Family members and trusted friends can be helpful in ensuring that the person with an eating disorder receives needed treatment and support.

A person who is overweight or obese can be helped to return to a healthy eating pattern and a healthy weight. Treatment may utilize behavioral and cognitive therapy as well as nutritional counseling and weight management strategies. The use of medications and careful monitoring is often valuable.

Treatment of anorexia requires a specific program that involves restoring weight that has been lost to severe dieting and purging, treating any psychological disturbances, such as distortion of body image, low self-esteem, and interpersonal or emotional conflicts, and achieving long-term remission and rehabilitation. For patients who have had severe weight loss, initial treatment is often in an inpatient hospital setting. Once the malnutrition has been addressed, and weight gain begins, psychotherapy (often cognitive-behavioral or one-on-one and group psychotherapy) can help people with anorexia overcome low self-esteem and address distorted thought and behavior patterns.

The primary goal when treating bulimia is to cut down on, or even eliminate, the binge eating and purging. Treatment, therefore, involves nutritional counseling, psychological support, and medication management. Patients establish a pattern of eating regular, non-binge meals, and therapy focuses on improvement attitudes related to the eating disorder, encouragement of healthy but not excessive exercise, and resolution of other conditions such as mood or anxiety disorders. Individual psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal psychotherapy, reality therapy, group psychotherapy that uses a cognitive-behavioral approach, and family or marital therapy have been r effective. Antidepressants have been found helpful for people with bulimia, especially those who have depression or anxiety, or who don't respond to therapy alone.

The treatment goals and strategies for binge-eating are similar to those for bulimia, and studies are currently evaluating the effectiveness of various interventions.

Additional Information

For more information about eating problems and weight control issues, please click on the linked websites listed below.

 National Eating Disorders Association
 Eating Disorders Association Home Page
 National Institute of mental Health: eating disorders
 Behavenet:capsules on eating disorders and bulimia

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