For many years there was a stereotypical, and somewhat research supported idea that it was only affluent and middle-class Caucasian teens that had an eating disorder.
Not so anymore.
There are three general types of eating disorders:
- Anorexia (not eating to the point of starvation due to a fear of gaining weight)
- Purging (using vomiting, laxatives, enemas or diuretics in order to lose or control weight)
- Binging (consuming large amounts of food, particularly in secret)
There are many sobering statistics about eating disorders, and one of the more surprising is the increase of bulimia in athletes. And we aren’t just talking about jockeys.
For adults and teens with eating disorders who are also taking part in judged sports (sports where the person receives an individual score) it has been estimated that there is a 13% rate of bulimia and other eating disorders. With refereed sports, such as formal high school sports, there is a 3% rate. Do you immediately think of this when you head to your teen’s football game? Most people don’t.
Female athletes in their teens and twenties, who suffer from an eating disorder such as bulimia, statistically are performing in aesthetic sports in which they are judged on an individual basis, such as gymnastics or figure skating.
Personality for bulimia in teens
Teens that battle bulimia have some personality characteristics that are mirrored in athletes. They have extremely high expectation of themselves and can be competitive and have a lot of drive, and have a preoccupation with diet, exercise and weight.
This is scary stuff, because eating disorders in teens (or anyone for that matter) can result in death.
Some research studies have shown that now American kids as young as 5 years old have an over-concern for their weight and physical appearance. This makes it pretty clear that we have some social and cultural issues to delve a little deeper and seriously into, before these disturbing rise even more.