Women of all ages constantly feel pressured by friends, family, the media and especially themselves to lose weight or “stay skinny.” With the numerous negative health effects of obesity, women may feel they need to immediately lose weight by any means necessary. Many people tend to forget about all the serious health risks that come along with extreme dieting, starvation diets and even eating disorders.
What may start as an innocent diet or personal goal to shed a few pounds can abruptly turn into an obsession. Too many girls today remain unaware of the harm they cause their bodies by resorting to starvation in order to obtain their ideal body images or target weight goals.
Nationaleatingdisorders.org offers a list of some serious medical problems resulting from self-starvation, or anorexia. The list includes:
• Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, increasing the risk for heart failure
• Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis)
• Muscle loss and weakness
• Severe dehydration, increasing the risk for kidney failure
• Fainting, fatigue and overall weakness
• Dry hair and skin (hair loss)
• Growth of a layer of hair all over the body (called lanugo) to keep the body warm
While obesity can certainly shorten one’s lifespan, women must remember that obsessing over dieting and depriving their bodies of nutrients can also lead to early, unexpected deaths.
An article released July 13, 2011, by Medical News Today revealed people who starve themselves due to eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia run a much higher risk of dying at an early age, according to U.K. researchers.
The researchers found a person with anorexia—someone who refuses to eat due to a fear of gaining weight—increases his or her likeliness of premature death by about 5.8 times. Someone with bulimia—who overeats and then self-induces vomiting—doubles the likelihood of early death.
Those who suffer from anorexia at young ages increase their risk for early death tremendously. According to the article from Medical News Today, “Patients diagnosed with anorexia in their 20s have 18 times the risk of death compared to healthy individuals of the same age.”
People with eating disorders suffer from both serious mental and physical issues. Researches found victims of eating disorders mainly die from the physical problems caused by the illnesses, but many develop OCD, depression and anxiety, and about 20 percent commit suicide.
Eating disorders threaten lives and can cause serious issues with self-esteem, relationships and health. If you or someone you know suffers from an obsession with weight or body image, you should seek professional help or advise that person to do so. As innocent as it may seem, dieting can become dangerous all too easily, and women young and old must take caution to avoid crossing the line between seeking healthy lifestyles and causing their bodies serious harm.
Reviewed July 28, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Kate Kunkel is a journalism student looking to minor in nutrition at Arizona State University. She currently interns for EmpowHER and has a passion for healthy eating and fitness.
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