Submitted by: Amanda L. Morris
Chapter 2: Physical Development and Health
There are three major types of eating disorders plaguing our students and young adults: anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Anorexia can be described as, “A condition in which a child refuses to eat adequate calories out of an intense and irrational fear of becoming fat.” (Kam 2007) This disorder causes a distorted body image and can lead to damage of vital organs, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, sensitivity and even death. Bulimia is known as, “a condition in which a child grossly overeats (binging) and then purges the food by vomiting or using laxatives to prevent weight gain.” (Kam 2007) It is similar to anorexia in that it can lead to an irregular heartbeat and other serious complications. It can also cause damage to teeth and inflammation of the esophagus. Binge eating is “a condition in which a child may gorge rapidly on food, but without purging.” (Kam 2007) Binge eating can lead to health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Although causes for eating disorders aren’t certain, it seems to be, “a combination of biological, behavioral, and social factors.” (Kam 2007) Children may struggle with a fear of being overweight, helplessness, low self-esteem, and distress. The disorders tend to correlate with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Studies have shown that there are up to 24 million people suffering from an eating disorder. It has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
“Not eating enough food or eating food and then throwing up can cause problems with growing and developing in a healthy way.” (New 2011) Not only can it affect physical health, but mental as well. It also has a severely negative impact on a child’s education. Students become “listless, withdrawn, emotionally numb, unexpressive, disinterested in activities, anti-social, and incapable of concentrating.” (Harper) This can lead to lower grades, failing, and negative behavior/defiance.
A teacher’s role:
Sometimes it can be difficult knowing how to address such a serious matter . Teachers have a lot of power in their role as a teacher. They can encourage counselors to start support groups, work one-on-one with students, and provide assemblies/presentations by outside professionals or students recovering from eating disorders. Recognizing the symptoms early can head off a much more serious/dangerous outcome. Provide resources that students can look at on their own, or places students can turn to for help. Understand that the eating disorder is a psychological and emotional pain. Things that might make a normal student feel better might be a trigger to students with/developing an eating disorder. It is important to be knowledgable about disorders so the disorders and damage can be minimized.
Eating disorders statistics. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/?gclid=CJbYtsLDoLkCFY5cMgodxQsATg
Harper, T. O. P. (n.d.). School, eating disorders, and academic achievement: A formula for failure. Retrieved from http://centerforchange.com/news-resources/newsletter/school-eating-disorders-and-academic-achievement-formula-failure
Kam, K. (2007, April 14). Eating disorders in children and teens. Retrieved from http://children.webmd.com/features/eating-disorders-children-teens
New, M. (2011, August). Kids and eating disorders. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/learning_problem/eatdisorder.html
- What are some steps you can take in your role as a teacher?
- Have you seen signs of peer/media pressure to be thin? Were the signs powerful? Why or why not?
- How prevalent do you believe eating disorders are in your work environment?
- Does this article make you want to change anything you are currently doing?