Although it tends to be the most well known eating disorder, anorexia is actually not the most common. According to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, among adults, bulimia and binge eating disorder (BED) are far more common, with anorexia occurring in less than 0.1% of the U.S. adult population.
While eating disorders have been relatively common in high schools (and in some middle schools) for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to exacerbate the conditions that can lead to unhealthy eating. By example, among adolescents, anorexia has been on the rise. Since the beginning of the pandemic, shelter-in-place public health orders have led to increasing levels of isolation and anxiety, along with hours upon hours of time spent in front of a screen in an effort to manage burgeoning stress levels. Adding to adolescent stress is that fact that health education has been dramatically cut back in classrooms and pushed to an online environment, severing many vital social connections. The result is that adolescents have experienced a considerable surge in eating disorders. Sadly, anorexia has been a concerning part of this surge.
People with eating disorders can suffer from damage to the heart, brain, kidneys, liver, digestive and endocrine systems, skin and other organs. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the fatality rate among anorexics is about 10%, making it one of the most deadly mental illnesses. Additionally, those of us with an eating disorder are also at higher risk for suicide. Although some of us can suffer with long-term health consequences even after we have recovered in OA, we CAN and DO fully recover when we work our OA program of recovery and we work with our healthcare providers.
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of weight. Those of us who suffer with anorexia place an exorbitantly high value on controlling our weight and shape, and typically go to great extremes that often tend to significantly interfere with our lives. Symptoms tend to include trying to maintain a below-normal weight through severe food restriction, starvation, or far too much exercise.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you struggle with Anorexia?
- Are you failing to get enough calories to remain healthy?
- Do you have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat?
- Are you avoiding or restricting your food intake to the point that you’re starving your body of what it needs to survive?
- Is your food intake so minimal and so highly restricted that you’re unable to meet your nutritional or energy needs?
- Are you exercising to an extreme that causes you to feel faint, weak, or unable to function normally?
- Are your loved ones and/or family physician concerned with your weight or food restricting behaviors?
If you found yourself answering ‘yes’ to any one of the above questions, and are ready to accept help, then you can benefit from attending an in-person or online OA meeting, finding a sponsor, and working our Twelve Step program of recovery. We hope you will join us and come to experience the gifts of the OA program: happiness, joy and freedom!