Physical and mental Effects of eating disorders

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Eating disorders are becoming more common in many societies around the world, and they typically occur during puberty. However, some reported studies and findings suggest that such diseases evolve later in life when a person is no longer a teenager, or during adolescence, with millions of people afflicted varying in age from 12 to 35. Eating disorders are cases in which patients suffer greatly from serious disruptions. Such health problems arise as a result of one's eating habits, as well as similar feelings and feelings that one may experience during one's life. The diseases can occur concurrently with other psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic, anxiety, and depression, as well as alcohol and drug abuse problems. Furthermore, the condition features a wide array of severe disturbances in the eating behavior along with weight regulation and always result in physical, psychological and social consequences. However, they are treatable medical illnesses. This research paper, therefore, seeks to provide a discussion of three eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, and lastly binge where an evaluation of the effect of each disorder and relevant examples will be given on how the media has been glamorizing these health problems. The thesis statement encompasses, a critical analysis of the mental as well as physical effects that result from eating disorders among the American population.


Anorexia is a psychiatric illness with devastating consequences characterized by emaciation, obsessive fear to gain weight by depriving the body of food, unwillingness to maintain the standard one, and an extremely disturbed eating behavior (Griffiths 301). Exercising excessively and dieting are the primary strategies used by people with anorexia nervosa or through self-induced vomiting, and misuse of the laxatives, enemas and diuretics.

The condition of anorexia can result in severe implications for a person's body physically, emotionally and mentally which may be short-term or long-term effects. The short-term impacts can include the overall poor health together with frequent infections. Some signs and symptoms of the disorder can be life-threatening to the affected person. Adolescents and teenagers who are suffering from anorexia are at high risks for depression and anxiety during young adulthood (Katterma and Kelly 160). Eventually, the mental disorders can lead to increased incidences of suicidal behaviors and substance abuse as a means of relieving stress. Among women and teenage girls, there is an occurrence of hormonal changes and henceforth a temporary loss of menstruation or if it is severe and not treated effectively can yield permanent infertility (Fursland and Hunna 420).

The severity of anorexia, therefore, determines both the physical and mental impacts and they worsen as the anorexic's thoughts regarding food crowd out more and more over an extended period. There can be incidences of youths dropping out of college or school, adults can experience career disruption, suicide, loss of adequate connection to religion or faith of a particular community, suicide and isolation from the family members or friends (Barbara-May and Paul 63). There is irreversibility of the physical effects of starvation which eventually reflects an extremely high rate of deaths and they include infertility, brain damage, heart attacks, and a shutdown of the major body systems. The heart disease result from various health conditions caused by anorexia. The problems may involve dangerous and abnormal heart rhythms, reduced blood flow and pressure throughout the body, shrinking heart muscles electrolyte imbalances and reduced mineral levels.

Individuals who are chronically suffering from anorexia can also experience gastrointestinal distress such as constipation, early satiety, bloating indigestion and mal-absorption (Katterman and Kelly 154). The malnutrition and chronic dehydration are the ones that severely impact the human beings vital organs including liver, heart and the kidneys. Muscle and bone weakening are other physical side effects as the body cannot be in a position to receive adequate nutrition that can sustain its functioning. Henceforth, there will be osteoporosis that creates increment in the peril for breaks as well as fractures.

A person who has a prolonged battle with anorexia can eventually experience the debilitating mental health problems including concurrent anxiety, body dysmorphia, depression and several other behavioral health issues. The anorexic patients have low self-esteem due to feelings of worthlessness and development of self-destructive behaviors as a result of withdrawal from the social situations (Gratwick-Sarll and Caroline 415). Anorexia has an impact on establishing or maintaining relationships as the condition reduces the ability of a person to connect with others socially. Furthermore, there is the inability to keep a particular job successfully and sustaining adequate finances.

Examples of how the media glamorizes anorexia

The press is exerting unnecessary pressure on women to look perfect by cutting on calories, drinking much water and working out for hours a day (DeJesse and Diane 190). The fashion magazines, for instance, are negatively influencing teenage girls to turn into the eating disorder. It is because the ladies see the thin models to be beautiful and thus triggering their mind to feel bad regarding their body image and henceforth, lowering the women's self-esteem. However, the models themselves do not look precisely in real life as they are portrayed in the magazines. Many of them can suffer from the physical and mental effects of the anorexia disorder in the long-run. Fake advertisements on the social media, images being shared by friends and relatives across the world are tearing up women rather than empowering them (Katterman and Kelly 156). The television also is glamourizing anorexia by drowning people in the weight loss commercials together with the diet pills as a way of encouraging teenage girls to remain sexy women.


Bulimia is characterized by frequent and recurrent episodes of taking large amounts of food along with feeling lack of control when it comes to consumption of meals (Fursland and Hunna 423). After eating excessive quantities, the victims of bulimia may purge the bodies of food and calories through the use of laxatives, diuretics and enemas, vomiting and exercising. Such acts are carried out in secrecy as the individuals feel ashamed and disgusted when they binge despite the fact that they are relieved of issues regarding negative emotions and tension after their stomachs remain empty. Bulimia leads to mental stress and also putting considerable strain on an individual's body (Worsfold and Jeanie 18). It can cause a cycle of the health concerns whereby a person can experience anxiety, depression and bipolar which are the common mental health problems. There can be an occurrence of moodiness and irritability that result from lack of vitamins and other abnormal behaviors resulting from bulimia (Katterman and Kelly 160). Stress and anxiety are due to keeping secrets from the loved ones and friends whom a person does not want them to know about their purging. There are also high possibilities of engaging in substance abuse as a strategy to achieve the ideal weight needed by such people.

The complications of bulimia are life-threatening and thus a necessity for medical attention from an eating disorder professional. There are severe effects especially on women including extreme social isolation, fractured relationships with families and friends, inability to sleep and inaccessibility to job opportunities (Barbara-May and Paul 61). Furthermore, as in the case of the anorexia condition, bulimia also leads to a loss of the spiritual connection to a person’s faith or religion within the community in which they live. Nevertheless, one can be forced to drop out of school or college as a way of creating time to deal with the devastating impacts of the bulimia health condition (Ringer and Patricia 127). An excessive expenditure on binge foods can lead to bankruptcy and other times portrayal of suicidal behavior. Other effects include but not limited to drug and alcohol addiction, internal bleeding, self-injury, heart attack and deaths due to frequent infections. The electrolyte imbalances, heart problems, damage to the esophagus, hormonal issues and the diabetes connections can make a person to become more stressed and henceforth seeking alternative means that may be harmful to overall health (Jones 87).

Bulimia is physically demanding, and when it comes to the digestive system, this health issue can bring about general weaknesses and fatigue. Furthermore, the chronic self-induced vomiting can negatively interfere with the digestive tract and cause acidity scars on the hands together with fingers. A misdirected usage of the diuretics can damage an individual’s kidney and cause difficulties when it comes to the bowel movement. Henceforth, one can suffer from the negative impacts such as haemorrhoids especially among pregnant women.

Frequent purging may lead to dehydration and thus weakening muscles and causing extreme fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and eventually heart failure. People with bulimia experience nutritional deficiencies (Fursland and Hunna 421). As a result, there can be hormonal imbalance and the fatigue that can yield sex drive. For pregnant mothers who continuously engage in the bingeing and purging behaviors can suffer from additional complications (Worsfold and Jeanie 17). The health problems include the maternal high blood pressure, premature birth, breastfeeding difficulties, postpartum depression, increased risks of caesarian delivery and many more other conditions that can severely impact the unborn babies. There are physical effects when it comes down to integumentary system such as dry skin and nails accompanied by hair loss.

Examples on how the media glamorizes bulimia

In the mass media marketers and advertisers can do anything possible to sell their products and services. Business persons are using models, celebrities and show hosts who are very thin and bones are protruding making young teenagers have a misunderstanding or misconception on what beauty entails (Barbara-May and Paul 58). Thus, many individuals have been negatively influenced by the comments and likes from social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook on unrealistic body images and pictures that distort an understanding of what beauty entails.

Binge-eating disorder

People with this disorder normally consume enormous quantities of food in a brief period and eventually feel out of control after such an act. They may not make efforts to get rid of the excess foods like those with bulimia disorder. Binge-eating is chronic and can, therefore, steer serious health complications including severe obesity, hypertension, diabetes and lastly cardiovascular diseases (McVey 69). Individuals can experience shame and guilt along with stress concerning their behavior and thus impact their emotional wellbeing. Despite the fact that the disease is treatable, it is also severe and life-threatening. The condition is well-known due to the compulsive overeating as well as consumption of an abnormal amount of food where an individual may be feeling unable to stop or to a situation referred to as being at a loss of control over the behavior.

Binge eating disorder is associated with emotional and physical consequences. The common ones include feelings of shame, depression, anxiety and self-hatred. The gastrointestinal distress and physical discomfort may occur as a result of digestion of the high volumes of food (Worsfold and Jeanie 17). Nevertheless, one can experience fatigue and lethargy, and a continuous portrayal of the behavior can intensify feelings of anger, loneliness, depression and sadness. The execution and recovery from the habit of bingeing can consume a lot of time. An individual can face social isolation to perform the act in private due to the extreme shame associated with it.

Routine binge-eating can eventually become obese or overweight and thus resulting in medical complications (Fursland and Hunna 421) that involve cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, cholesterol and triglycerides. When the food contains more fatty acids, then a person may end up developing gout. Therefore, a person with the binge-eating disorder may suffer the short-term effects where they suffer from the emotional and psychological impacts including shame, social isolation, guilt, lower quality of life, problems at home or work, fatigue, depression, anxiety and weight gain. Obesity results in the identified long-term effects including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, joint pain, gallbladder disease, heart failure, muscle pain, digestive problems, certain cancers and sleep apnea health problem and conditions (DeJesse and Diane 190).

Since bingeing is a dangerous mental disorder, an individual can develop an unhealthy preoccupation when it comes to the daily eating habits that are accompanied by low self-esteem particularly among the teens and young adults (McVey 70). Furthermore, one can become overly sensitive concerning weight and physical appearance and a fear of disapproval from the colleagues, friends or family members and relatives. Just like anorexia and bulimia, binge-eating victims can develop a suicidal behavior or sometimes an intent to harm themselves after the impacts of social isolation and bankruptcy due to over expenditure on buying excess foods to meet their demands. A person can, therefore, experience a distorted body image and to some extent, an extreme dissatisfaction with body shape. There can also be an act of jeopardizing of relationships, career and finances and ultimate destruction from inside-out (DeJesse and Diane 190). Hence, as discussed above, this disorder has both physical and mental impacts on human beings.

Examples of how the media glamorizes binge-eating disorder

Social media is significantly influencing the perceptions of an individual regarding the body image and henceforth relation with food along with creating fear on gaining more weight. People post Snap chat, Instagram and Facebook food conscious post that can heighten the levels of anxiety and stress and thus cause an individual to engage in destructive eating behaviors (Jones 86). As peers continue to use the social media, there are increased difficulties in reducing the pressure regarding ideal body type and therefore affecting individual's emotional well-being. Cyberbullying, for instance, can cause a teenage girl to engage in binge eating as a way to relieve the pain.


In summary, people suffering from the three eating disorders including bulimia, anorexia, and binge-eating can experience a vast range of both physical and mental health problems. One does not need to necessary be under-weight or weight for the effects to be more prominent. The severe health consequences identified in the analysis include brain dysfunction, severe nutrition and the kidney or heart failure. Such people can also experience different mental illness such as depression, anxiety and bipolar and being at risk of becoming more suicidal and intent of portraying harmful behaviors. Therefore, it is paramount to have an early intervention through the help of a professional person as a way to overcome the challenges and problems being experienced by the people suffering from the eating disorders. Full recovery will depend on how early one went to seek treatment.

Works Cited

Barbara-May, Rachel, and Paul Denborough. "Eating Disorders As Core Business For MentalHealth Clinicians Working In A Public Mental Health Service." Journal of EatingDisorders, vol 1, no. Suppl 1, 2013, p. O60. Springer Nature.

DeJesse, LeighAnn D., and Diane C. Zelman. "Promoting Optimal Collaboration betweenMental Health Providers and Nutritionists in the Treatment of EatingDisorders." Eating Disorders, vol 21, no. 3, 2013, pp. 185-205. Informa UK Limited,

Fursland, Anthea, and Hunna J. Watson. "Eating Disorders: A Hidden Phenomenon inOutpatient Mental Health?" International Journal of Eating Disorders, vol 47, no. 4,2013, pp. 422-425. 

Gratwick-Sarll, Kassandra, and Caroline Bentley. "Improving Eating Disorders Mental HealthLiteracy: A Preliminary Evaluation Of The “Should I SaySomething?”Workshop." Eating Disorders, vol 22, no. 5, 2014, pp. 405-419. Informa UKLimited.

Griffiths, Scott et al. "Facilitating Research on Eating Disorders Stigma: Validation of theInternalised Stigma of Mental Illness Scale for Use in People with EatingDisorders." Advances in Eating Disorders, vol 4, no. 3, 2016, pp. 293-308. Informa UKLimited.

Jones, William R. et al. "Knowledge and Attitudes of Psychiatrists towards EatingDisorders." European Eating Disorders Review, vol 21, no. 1, 2012, pp. 84-88. WileyBlackwell.

Katterman, Shawn N., and Kelly L. Klump. "Stigmatization of Eating Disorders: A ControlledStudy of the Effects of the Television Showstarved." Eating Disorders, vol 18, no. 2,2010, pp. 153-164. Informa UK Limited.

McVey, Gail. "Building Partnerships with Prevention Experts Targeting Other Mental HealthProblems." Eating Disorders, vol 24, no. 1, 2015, pp. 63-70. Informa UK Limited.

Ringer, Francoise, and Patricia McKinsey Crittenden. "Eating Disorders and Attachment: TheEffects of Hidden Family Processes on Eating Disorders." European Eating DisordersReview, vol 15, no. 2, 2007, pp. 119-130. Wiley-Blackwell.

Worsfold, Kate A, and Jeanie K Sheffield. "Eating Disorder Mental Health Literacy: What DoPsychologists, Naturopaths, And Fitness Instructors Know?" Eating Disorders, 2017, pp.1-19. Informa UK Limited.

August 09, 2021
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