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Eating Disorders
By Rayni Joan


More than ten million people worldwide -- mostly female -- suffer from addictive eating disorders, which include Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating, sometimes known simply as ED's. When we estimate how many people ED's affect, however, we ought to include families and friends of those with the actual eating disorder -- this amounts to many millions more.

Anorexia is an eating disorder of self-starvation due to distorted body image and fear of being fat. An ultra-thin anorexic can look in the mirror and see herself as a fat person.

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which a person -- called a bulimic -- consumes huge amounts of food and immediately vomits. Always operating secretively, bulimics sometimes use laxatives, diuretics and enemas in an effort to purge. They may chew food and spit it out without swallowing. Because bulimics are not necessarily thin, they easily hide their eating disorder and suffer in secret silence.

Binge eating is an eating disorder marked by frenzies of uncontrolled gorging followed by feelings of despair and self-recrimination.

Many people blame eating disorders on the skinny images of girls and women put forth by the industries of fashion, advertising, and Hollywood films. Regarding this heavy-handed effort to purvey unrealistic images, one supermodel is said to have remarked: "Most of the time, even I don't look like my pictures."

In November of 2006, the 21-year-old Brazilian model, Ana Carolina Reston, died from complications of anorexia. She was 5'8" tall (more than 1.5 meters) and weighed 88 pounds (40 kg).

In September of 2006, Spain generated a huge controversy in the world of fashion when they banned models below a certain size because they did not want to influence young girls negatively.

Eating disorders cause a wide range of illnesses, from fatigue, dehydration and tooth decay to grave illnesses like liver damage and heart failure, and many in between.

If you or someone you know has an ED, the best thing you can do is lovingly direct her/him to a support group like ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) at www.anad.org. ANAD can help anorexics, bulimics, binge eaters, and people with associated eating disorders to find proper treatment.

(Read about Rayni Joan's new novel, The Skinny, at "http:www.raynijoan.com.")