Eating Disorders and Social Media mental and physical effects

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Most communities' dietary patterns have been disrupted as a result of lifestyle changes, technological advancements, societal transformations, and illnesses. Individuals' physical well-being is closely linked to their normal emotional, social, and physical functioning. Physical accidents or diseases may lead to deteriorating fitness, interfering with normal body functions. People used cosmetic surgery and the induction of genetic and hormonal modifiers to alter their body type because they chose to have somebody feature desires. Body development, immunity, and pathogen resistance are all dependent on nutrients found in food. The inability to observe healthy eating patterns has resulted in the deteriorated immune system, body deformities, and poor cognitive ability. Disturbed or abnormal eating habits witnessed in people result from various health risk factors. While the causes of the irregular and unhealthy habits could be from the natural and uncontrolled occurrences, the contemporary society is marked with induced unhealthy eating habits. The effects of the unhealthy eating habits and disorders have been named the reason of the increased cases of obesity and heart diseases. Eating disorders are diverse and result from the distinct causes with varying symptoms. The dietary problems have mental and physical effects that hamper thinking, metabolic processes, and the ability to undertake physical activities. The eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating amongst others. In the recent past, the popularity of social media, especially among young people has been hypothesized as a contributing factor towards eating disorders. The paper aims to analyze anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders, the mental and physical effects of the given conditions, and the role of social media and body image to reveal the underlying aspects on eating problems.


The issues surrounding anorexia include the definition, types, causes, symptoms, and the treatment of the condition. A full analysis of the variables surrounding anorexia allows individuals and stakeholders in the healthcare industry to device ways of preventing and managing the problems. Information is vital for the management of eating disorders as most individuals expose themselves to the risks of developing eating abnormalities out of ignorance. Anorexia Nervosa commonly referred to as anorexia is a life-threatening psychological eating disorder characterized by extremely low body mass index (BMI), unreasonable dread against body weight gain, alarming weight loss, compromised and negative perception towards body and self-image. Anorexia broadly refers to the lack of appetite and self-starvation among individuals. The people suffering from anorexia are characterized by the abnormal eating patterns leading to weight loss and thin body figures. Anorexia is severe and has two types: the purge and the restrictive anorexia. Purge anorexia is characterized by binge eating. The disorder has the psychological impairments leading to abusing laxatives, vomiting and excessive physical exercising as a way of curbing the feeling of guilt from eating. The restrictive anorexia is marked by the extremely limited food intake below the body calorie requirements leading to slow starvation of the individual. While the two types of anorexia are widespread, the symptoms of both forms are quite similar as witnessed in abnormal eating structures and unreasonable fear of weight gain. The prominent symptoms of the disease include chronic dieting irrespective of the extreme underweight, attention to fat contents and calories of food, strict eating patterns, depression, lanugo, thinning or loss of hair, and avoidance of social gatherings and functions.


Bulimia is also a life-threatening psychological eating disorder characterized by high food ingestion/intake over a short period of time succeeded by attempts to curb body weight gain through purging of the consumed food. The victims of bulimia induce purging using excess diuretics or laxatives, forced vomiting, prolonged and extreme exercising. The psychological impact of the disorder is seen in trying to manage the feeling of discomfort from the thought of gaining weight. The frantic efforts of eradicating the fear of gaining weight are characterized by the loss of control leading to physical harm in some instances. The sufferers of bulimia in most instances tend to hide the condition by disregarding other people who could raise concerns. Physical exercising and purging are some of the coping measures employed by the people suffering from bulimia to cope with the difficult situations or circumstances and gain a sense of control. Bulimia includes two types: the purging and the non-purging type. The purging bulimia involves the cases where the victims indulge in the abuse of diuretics, laxatives, enemas, and self-induced of vomiting. This type of bulimia is the most common (Nardo 9). The non-purging bulimia involves the use of inappropriate means of avoiding the food consumption and the probability of weight gain through fast and excessive body exercise as opposed to purging. The signs and symptoms of bulimia include continuous weight fluctuations, broken eye blood vessels, chronic dehydration, the inflammation of the esophagus, infertility, oral trauma, and electrolyte imbalance. Purging eating habits signs include the smell of vomit, secret eating, and frequent use of washrooms immediately after eating.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is characterized by compulsive over-eating, inability to control or stop eating, and ingestion of the abnormal amounts of food. Binge eating disorder is characterized by binge eating episodes, which are medically considered to occur on a minimum average of two times a week over a six-month period among the people suffering from the disorder. Binge eating disorder, unlike anorexia and bulimia, can affect people with a normal weights and leads to obesity or unwanted weight gain. The obesity or unwarranted body weight gain in the sufferers of binge eating disorder enhances the problem, thus, compounding the compulsive eating tendencies in the patients. The sufferers of binge eating disorders struggle with guilt and disgust, which often result in anxiety and depression. Binge eating in patients is usually accompanied by a negative feeling, hence, prompting the individuals to continue using food as a coping mechanism. The signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder include stockpiling food for secret consumption, stress and anxiety, continuous eating even when one has taken enough food, lack of sensation, numbness while bingeing and lack of satiation in taking food (Nardo 11).

Causes of Eating Disorders

The eating disorders result from various causes, which can be categorized into biological, psychological, social, and cultural ones. The biological causes of eating disorder include genetic mutations and hormonal imbalances. Psychological causes of eating disorders are established on the correlation between depression, emotional instability, anxiety, and eating disorders. The psychological causes of eating disorders emanate from low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, and difficulties in coping with the emotional feelings. The psychological causes of eating disorders push an individual into abnormal eating habits in order to satisfy psychological wishes. Social and cultural causes of eating disorders include activities that emphasize on physical appearance, peer pressure among friends and co-workers, childhood and family traumas. This social pressure pushes one into abnormal eating habits to meet the cultural and social expectations (Nardo 13).

Physical and Mental Effects of Eating Disorders

The various eating disorders have negative impacts on mental and physical functioning of the victims. Physical and mental effects of eating disorders include anxiety or depression, insomnia or sleep apnea, hypertension, joint and muscle pain, diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, gallbladder disease, and gastrointestinal difficulties. The results of this physical and mental are life-threatening if not managed.

Eating Disorders and Social Media

Social media has become a crucial element of the contemporary society. The formal societal structures also utilize social media to acquire and disseminate information. Eating disorders have a strong correlation with social media. Marketing of various physical appearance-related products, educational programs on weight management, and the maintenance of physical fitness is carried out on social media. The social and cultural causes of eating disorders are perpetrated through social media. The pressures of body figures and the perception of certain body sizes as fashionable are popularized through social. Moreover, cyberbullying is perpetrated all over social media leading to the magnification of the psychological turmoil of individuals with esteem issues. Friends and co-workers of organizations focusing on physical appearances exert pressure on individuals through social media (Savelle-Rocklin 6).


Eating disorders are life-threatening conditions. While the cases of food-related problems are quite frequent, the understanding of the circumstances surrounding the development of the conditions is vital towards the prevention, management and the treatment of the condition. There is dire need to enhance the psychological, social, and cultural structures of individuals depicting symptoms and signs of eating disorders. The effects of the eating problems are magnified by the lack of support systems in the society where people with abnormal feeding habits could be assisted to develop self-esteem and improve their self body images. Individuals facing eating disorders which are normally centered on poor self and body image have low tendencies of establishing meaningful relationships, pursuit of dreams, careers and innovation. Social media is an important social aspect of expression, however, there are some negative effects of the platform. The depiction of some individuals as misfits in the society leading to poor mental health and self-image causing eating disorders are some of the effects of social media. Establishing healthy eating habits, management of self-image and self-esteem is vital towards avoiding the development of eating disorders.

Works Cited

Nardo, Don. Teens and Eating Disorders. Reference Point Press, 2017.

Savelle-Rocklin, Nina. Food for Thought: Perspectives on Eating Disorders. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

August 09, 2021
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