Monday, June 17, 2024

Why Are Eating Disorders More Common In Western Cultures

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Has The Prevalence Of Eating Disorders Increased Over Time

Why Eating Disorders Are Way More Common Than You Think

Although eating disorders have existed throughout human history, they seem to be growing more widespread today. One large review study found that 3.5 percent of people suffered from an eating disorder in the years 2000 to 2006, yet nearly 8 percent suffered from one in the years 2013 to 2018.

A particularly unsettling trend is that anorexia may be increasing among children. One recent study found that anorexia had increased among 8- to 12-year-olds in the past decade, which is consistent with other research showing that the age of onset for anorexia may be decreasing.

How Common Are Eating Disorders

The lifetime prevalence of eating disorders among adolescents in the U.S. is 3.8 percent for women and 1.5 percent for men, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Among adults in the U.S., the overall prevalence of binge-eating disorder is 1.2 percent, the overall prevalence of anorexia is 0.6 percent, and the overall prevalence of bulimia is 0.3 percent.

Studies that slightly expand the diagnostic criteria find higher estimates of eating disorders, such as 5 percent of adolescent girls or nearly 8 percent of individuals overall. Eating disorders can occur at any time, but they typically develop in ones adolescence or early twenties.

Eating Disorder Statistics By Age

  • Globally, 13% of women older than 50 experience disordered eating behaviors.
  • The median age of eating disorder onset was 21 years old for binge eating disorder and 18 years old for anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
  • The lifetime prevalence of eating disorders in the U.S. was 2.7% among adolescents as of 2001-2004.
  • Of adolescents with eating disorders, the 17- to 18-year-old age group had the highest prevalence .

Researchers followed a group of 496 adolescent girls in a U.S. city over a span of eight years and found that by the age of 20:

  • More than 5% of the girls met the criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.
  • More than 13% of the girls had experienced an eating disorder when including non-specific eating disorder symptoms.

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Public Perception Of Eating Disorders

In spite of the risks of eating disorders, many people feel like the disease is not as serious as it is. In fact, many Americans think eating disorders are simply a cry for attention. Others think that whether someone wants to lose weight or wants to remain skinny is a personal choice and all that has to be done to remedy the situation is to start eating normally. When dating, some people agreed that a partner with an eating disorder would be more attractive, and others stated they wouldnt date someone with a mental illness but would date someone with an eating disorder.

There are also many misconceptions about the treatment and recovery of eating disorders. One of the most common responses to someone with an eating disorder is just eat something. Also, many people think once a person with an eating disorder begins to gain weight or gets to a normal weight then he or she is cured.

Introduction: Development Of The Concept And Definition

Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder

The concept of culture-bound syndromes has been the focus of an ongoing debate in the field of transcultural or comparative cultural psychiatry between psychiatric universalists who interpret these conditions as cultural elaborations of universal neuropsychological or psychopathological phenomena, and cultural relativists who see them as generated and expressive of distinctive features of a particular culture. The 8th edition of Kraepelin’s textbook of psychiatry in 1909 was the first handbook describing clinical pictures which were later labeled culture-bound syndromes, namely latah, koro, and amok. In the past the term exotic was used to emphasize the non-Western character of culture-related conditions. It was not anticipated then that a disorder such as anorexia nervosa in young women would become common due to sociocultural factors operant in modern Western society, so that it has now been recognized as a Western culture-reactive syndrome . The concept of culture-specific psychiatric disorders was originally introduced into psychiatric literature in the 1950s and 60s by Yap, who also made the first attempt to order what he called culture-bound reactive syndromes, known under a great variety of folk names, in a diagnostic classification schema .

Anu Asnaani, … Manuel Gutierrez Chavez, in, 2021

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Depression Is Complicated This Is How Our Understanding Of The Condition Has Evolved Over Time

People often think of depression as a single, uniform condition deep sadness and a loss of interest in the activities that someone usually enjoys. But depression is complicated and its difficult to define what it means in an objective way.

This is because depression is a condition of the mind: it is diagnosed based on peoples psychological symptoms and behavior, not from a brain scan or markers in their blood or DNA.

When we diagnose depression, we have to rely on people to recall their own symptoms. We have to trust that doctors will observe and probe their symptoms reliably. We have to analyze this information to understand what people with depression experience that other people dont.

Our ability to do all of these things accurately has changed over time, and so has our understanding of depression.

This comes down to three factors.

First, many countries now screen for depression in the general population, not just in a subset of people who are seen by a small number of doctors. In many studies, researchers track patients over long periods of time to understand how the condition progresses.

Second, we use questionnaires and interviews that treat depression as a condition that can occur at different levels and change with time.

Third, we have better statistical tools to help us refine questionnaires and understand how symptoms are related to one another.

Surveying depression in the general population

Measuring depression on levels

Global Eating Disorder Statistics

According to the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, more than 70 million people worldwide and 24 million Americans have been diagnosed or display symptoms of an eating disorder. Outside of the United States, eating disorders are less common, especially in cultures where curves and plumpness are considered more attractive due to its association with fertility, prosperity and economic security. In Muslim societies where women have more restrictive social roles, there are lower rates of eating disorders.

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Global Impact Of Westernization Of Culture

The first culture to be studied, with an increased prevalence of eating disorders, was Asia. Immigrants began coming to Western countries, and studies were conducted on the immigrants and descendants prior to the 1990s. There were a handful of reported cases of eating disorders during this time and was rare.

In Japan however in the 1970s eating disorders becoming more prevalent, and by the end of the 20th century disordered eating attitudes and behaviors significantly increased among Asian youth . Eating disorders in Asia suggest that eating disorders are not culture-bound or specific, but more culture-reactive.

This is based on Westernization of fashion, beauty ideas, television, social media as well as industrialization and urbanization of Asia .

The study of the significant and rapid increase of eating disorders in Asia takes into consideration the coinciding of westernization, cultural shifts, industrialization, and urbanization. This includes shifts in population demographics, food supply, global economies, gender role shifts, and the traditional family structure changes .

Statistics: How Many People Have Eating Disorders

3 Common Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa:Bulimia nervosa:Males with eating disorders:What age groups are affected?:Overweight and obesity:Binge eating disorder:Eating disorders and substance abuse:What age groups are affected?:What about compulsive exercising?Subclinical eating disordersEating disorders in Western and non-Western countriesMortality and recovery rates


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Eating Disorders And Covid

  • People with an eating disorder may be at increased risk of exacerbation of symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, including greater levels of anxiety and stress due to social isolation .
  • Initial Australian research indicates the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted eating disorders with an increase in restriction, binge eating, purging and exercise behaviours in those with eating disorders and increased restriction and binge eating in the general population .

Learn more about eating disorders and COVID-19

Early in the pandemic EDV put together a guide to COVID-19 and eating disorders.

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Do Stress And Trauma Lead To Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can be spurred by life transitions as well as stressful or traumatic events. Those incidentssuch as starting a new job, a sexual assault, or the death of a loved onecan lead to overwhelming and uncontrollable emotions.

Restricting food intake and regulating weight can lead people to feel a sense of control amid the chaos. And sometimes this is the only aspect of life they think they can control. In this way, a triggering event can lead to a persistent disorder.

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Eating Disorders In Asia

Eating disorders in Singapore have been increasing since the 1990s . Studies have shown that body dissatisfaction has grown within the population, especially among university students. Rates of eating disorder diagnoses are believed to be continually climbing in part due to population growth, but these rates are still lower than those of Westernized countries.

In the 1990s, a study was done looking at the rates of childhood obesity on a government school-based weight loss program called Trim and Fit . It was a disaster in terms of addressing childhood obesity, and researchers suggest that it may have contributed to the current status of eating disorders within Asia.

When follow-up studies were conducted, they found that 11.1 percent of anorexia patients seen during the research study period were former members of the TAF program, and participants in the TAF program reported experiencing social stigma and teasing from their peers .

In Hong Kong, non-fat-phobic anorexia has been reported. The same is true in India, although it is less common than traditional anorexia diagnosis. In India, eating disorders are complex and possibly reflect the diversity within the country itself.

Prevalence Of Eating Disorders Among Ethnic Minorities

Eating disorders

In the past, eating disorders have been characterized as culture-bound syndromes, specific to Caucasian subjects in Western, industrialized societies . This assumption may be due to the fact that they are the most likely to seek treatment. Recent studies demonstrate that eating disorders do affect other cultures, ethnicities and regions as well, and are possibly on the rise . However, these groups do not fit the stereotype, and more importantly, do not seek treatment as often, making it more challenging for untrained clinicians to recognize the signs and symptoms.

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Examining The Rise Of Eating Disorders In Different Cultures

When looking at Hispanic, African-American, and Caucasian girls in grades 4 to 12, a study found that 10th-grade Hispanic girls displayed eating disorders at the same rate of their peers, but also reported higher rates of weight loss attempts.

Researchers point to the medias obsession with the ideal body and ultra-thinness. According to the Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc , children in the US watch on average 21 hours of television in one week, not counting other forms of screen time which can account for changing perceptions of the ideal body image or body shape and change perceptions.

Fiji is a country that has been heavily studied due to the rise in eating disorders after Westernization influence started in the mid-1990s. Prior to the 1990s, there was only 1 documented case of an eating disorder .

In the mid-1990s television was introduced into Fiji society, and researcher Dr. Becker lead various studies on measuring eating psychopathology and beauty ideals both prior to and after the introduction to television. Once television arrived, rates of eating disturbances escalated among the Fijian women . With the prevalence of television and more westernized ideas, rates of body dissatisfaction, dieting, desire to lose weight and the thin ideal internalization as well as bulimic behaviors became more widespread across the island.


About the Author:

Sociocultural Issues And Eating Disorders: A Media Analysis

Lisa dedicates her life to studying the behaviours of others. She is currently completing her BA in Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies.

Our global community has been preoccupied with advertisements and media productions for centuries. Both have evolved in numerous different ways, changing how products are to be sold or which products are allowed to be sold, or the desired façade that is normalized within broadcasted communications to aid in portraying the ideal personality, behaviour, and appearance. Although it can be argued that published media is not directly damaging, it does hold an immense amount of power in influencing peoples decisions and impulses, indirectly manipulating peoples self-view and personal sense of identity. The following article will dissect two pieces of media: a gym advertisement, and a music video by one of 2020/2021s biggest pop culture icons. They will be analyzed through both a psychological lens and a sociocultural lens, connecting the findings to disordered eating. Following will be my personal speculation of the complexities within the relationship between Western culture and its impacts on eating habits and self-esteem.

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Using Virtual Reality To Assess The Brains Response To Body Appearance

The team enrolled 32 healthy individuals 16 men and 16 women to the study. None of the participants had a history of eating disorders, and their height and weight were measured upon enrollment.

Each participant was required to wear a virtual reality headset that, when they looked down, showed them a first-person video of a slim or obese body. In other words, it looked like the body belonged to them.

In order to enhance this illusion, the researchers poked the subjects torso with a stick, in synchronization with the video.

During this experiment, each participant had their brain activity monitored through magnetic resonance imaging .

When participants looked at their obese bodies, the team identified a direct link between activity in the area of the brain associated with body perception the parietal lobe and activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the brain region related to the processing of subjective emotions, such as fear and anger.

What is more, the researchers found that such brain activity was more prominent in women than men, suggesting that owning an obese body is likely to lead to higher body dissatisfaction in women.

The researchers say their findings may help shed light on why women are more affected by eating disorders than men.

Sociocultural Comparisons Within America

Why are so many women who suffer from eating disorders overlooked? | GMA

Several studies have identified sociocultural factors within American society that are associated with the development of eating disorders. Traditionally, eating disorders have been associated with Caucasian upper-socioeconomic groups, with a “conspicuous absence of Negro patients” . However, a study by Rowland found more lower- and middle-class patients with eating disorders within a sample that consisted primarily of Italians and Jews. Rowland suggested that Jewish, Catholic and Italian cultural origins may lead to a higher risk of developing an eating disorder due to cultural attitudes about the importance of food.

More recent evidence suggests that the pre-valence of anorexia nervosa among African-Americans is higher than previously thought and is rising. A survey of readers of a popular African-American fashion magazine found levels of abnormal eating attitudes and body dissatisfaction that were at least as high as a similar survey of Caucasian women, with a significant negative correlation between body dissatisfaction and a strong black identity . It has been hypothesized that thinness is gaining more value within the African-American culture, just as it has in the Caucasian culture .

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What Forms Of Treatment Are Effective For Bulimia Nervosa

Most uncomplicated cases of bulimia nervosa can be treated on an outpatient basis although inpatient treatment is occasionally indicated. The best psychological treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which involves self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the eating disorder. Therapy is focused on normalizing eating behavior and identifying environmental triggers and irrational thoughts or feeling states that precipitate bingeing or purging. Patients are taught to challenge irrational beliefs about weight and self-esteem. Several medications have also been shown to be effective in decreasing bingeing and purging behaviors in bulimia.

Which Personality Traits And Attitudes Are Linked To Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are connected to perfectionism, obsessive compulsive tendencies, and sensitivity to negative emotions. Low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction are risk factors, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression.

One of the strongest predictors of eating disorders among girls, research suggests, is the value peers place on weight and eating. This tendency is heightened in college, a community of individuals the same age with few older adults to provide broader perspective. The influence of peer perception may contribute to the proliferation of eating disorders on college campuses.

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A Brief Note On Anorexia And Bulimia Nervosa

In today ‘s western society, an abundance of factors contribute to the way one thinks and feels about themselves physically, and essentially how one would act upon this. All over the world, messages and images of skinny women are engrossing people ‘s lives, leaving negative and long-lasting affects behind. Current beliefs of western culture suggest one must obtain a “perfect,” which has become analogous to thin, physique in order to achieve happiness and success, causing many young women to feel

Media Consumption Of Non Western Countries

Anorexia College Project on emaze

Consumption in Non-Western Countries The usage of media in non-Western countries has been spreading as technology and social media have become the focus for most teenagers and young adults. Contrary to the assumption that western countries are the only nations that have a population obsessed with media, statistics have shown that other developing countries are experiencing a significant increase in advanced technology usage such as smartphones and internet usage. For example, non-western countries dominate

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