Food is one of the primary requirements of life. People have different associations with food. For most of us, food is a source of comfort, indulgence, and sometimes, extravagance. But some people have a negative relationship with their food, brought about by mental problems, body image issues, social media, and trauma.
What are eating disorders?
People with eating disorders think a lot about food and have a poor body image. Eating disorders manifest in different forms. The types of eating disorders are as follows:
- Anorexia nervosa. It is the type of eating disorder characterised by pathological dieting to a level of starvation and excessive exercise.
- Binge eating. Binge eating is characterised by consuming large portions of food in a small interval of time, feeling embarrassed later, and vowing to stop but being unable to resist. The person usually eats alone in secret and is raged by feelings of guilt, shame and disgust for themselves.
- Anorexia bulimia. It is a disorder characterised by eating food normally or excessively but discarding the food by taking laxatives or inducing vomit before it is digested. Generally, there is an underlying unresolved emotional experience or trauma that pushes the person towards eating disorders.
Statistics of eating disorders
According to statistics, 9% of people globally are suffering from eating disorders. Almost 30 million Americans have experienced eating disorders in their lives. About 26% of people with eating disorders resort to suicide. The rise of eating disorders increased from 3.8%–7.8% in the year 2022.
What is the medical industry doing about it?
Eating disorders are more common among young women than men. About one person dies every minute due to an eating disorder. To combat this rise, pharmaceutical companies, sterile fill finish companies, biopharma companies, and psychology research are forerunners in creating, packaging, and supplying therapies for mental illnesses.
The next step is early detection
In Ottowa, Canada, a team of researchers has discovered one way of early diagnosis of eating disorders. According to Dr Gregory Hundemar, people with electrolyte imbalances are more likely to get diagnosed with an eating disorder later in life. People with severe electrolyte imbalance are five times more at risk than the ones with mild disturbances.
A case-control study was done from 2008 to 2020, on girls 13 years and older. The discovery can help in the preventative treatment of those at risk and save millions of people from suffering. The disorder in eating is present well before the actual diagnosis is made. The studies made it possible to detect people with eating problems before the diagnosis can be established.
Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride play an important role in body acid-base metabolism and general wee-being. It is now confirmed that anyone with an electrolyte disturbance might be suffering from an eating disorder and hence should be given a proper analysis. The new study has made it easy to identify red-flags way before the situation gets out of hand.
Eating disorders are serious health conditions that cause many deaths in a year. The stigma surrounding the disorder is one of the factors that impede timely help. Now, with the new study, there is another beam of hope.
Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.