Anorexia and Bulimia (USA Today Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders)

Anorexia and Bulimia (USA Today Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders)

By: Carol Sonenklar
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: August 2010
ISBN: 978-0822567868
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2010

Anorexia and bulimia are serious disorders that affect people of all ages, but both are primarily known to affect adolescent girls. Anorexia is a disorder in which people actually deprive themselves of food, effectively sending their bodies into a starvation mode. This disorder can be so insidious that serious damage to one’s body can be done even before others suspect or discover that someone has the disorder. People with bulimia repeatedly eat large quantities of food and “then try to get rid of the food by forcing themselves to vomit.” Sufferers often use several other methods of purging including laxatives and diuretics. People who fall victim to these serious disorders need a considerable amount of help in order to recover. Many people would be shocked to actually find out that boys and men can also fall victim to these disorders too. In 2006, Harvard conducted a study and “found that 25 percent of all anorexics and 40 percent of bulimics were boys or men.”

This book gives an overview of eating behaviors throughout history. Intentional starvation has been practiced for many reasons, particularly to “bring attention to particular causes.” One notable practitioner was Mohandas Gandhi. In the latter part of the 1800s, “Anorexia Nervosa” was recognized and reported by Dr. William Gull. The specific target group was “females between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three.” This target group has been, with research, extended to young men as well. It’s also been proven that biological factors definitely play a role in the cause of both anorexia and bulimia. Both disorders have been around for centuries, but many people were totally unaware of their existence until several notable people began to perish. One of the first, the shocking death of Karen Carpenter, made people much more aware of the problem.

There are several groups discussed in this book that are particularly prone to falling prey to either anorexia or bulimia. Recognition and diagnosis is more difficult in boys than in girls because “parents of boys with eating disorders are much less likely to recognize the problem and often deny it.” One other very interesting factor is that “eating disorders in boys usually begin for different reasons from those seen in girls.” The physical effects of both disorders are quite startling and can have dire consequences to the sufferer including death. In this book you’ll learn about triggers for the disorders, the warning signs, other psychiatric disorders that may be present, you’ll read about case studies, the demographics of the disorder, permanent health effects, treatment, recovery, and you’ll learn many other interesting facets of these two disorders.

This is a fascinating, up-to-date look at two serious disorders, anorexia and bulimia. This is a very well written and researched book that was quite shocking once I realized how widespread the disorders are. We are able to follow the stories of three young people, two girls and a boy, throughout the book as they lead their secret lives trying to hide from everyone. They are nicely woven into the text and we can clearly see how the disorders not only affect their bodies, but also their minds. There are statistical snapshots relevant to the discussion at hand in the forms of charts and graphs. Numerous USA TODAY articles are interspersed throughout the book. Each one gives the reader an historical overview of how society perceived the disorders. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, important resources, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This is an excellent resource for parents, caretakers, teachers, and others interested in the devastating problems of two very serious disorders, anorexia and bulimia.

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