What is the Connection Between Eating Disorders and Obesity?

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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Eating disorders and obesity are interconnected problems that can occur when one begins unhealthy eating habits. In many cases obesity is caused by an eating disorder. Also, those who are already obese might develop an eating disorder to quickly lose weight. These two conditions are more often seen together in young women experiencing a low perception of their body image. Overcoming eating disorders and obesity requires support of family, friends and medical professionals.

In many cases obesity is due to an eating disorder. Many people with low self-esteem and clinical depression use food as a form of medication to treat their negative feelings. Foods high in sugar and fat are most appealing due to the human body's innate desire for these things. Food becomes a drug; when the effects wear off a person craves them even more. Unhealthy weight gain is due to the disorder becoming cyclical.


The second connection between eating disorders and obesity is that once a person becomes obese, he or she may develop another eating disorder in order to lose weight. The two most well-known eating disorders that can develop at this stage are anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is a form of self-starvation, and though it is usually seen in individuals of normal weight, it can occur in obese individuals looking for a quick way to lose weight. Individuals suffering from bulimia, on the other hand, experience cycles of binging on massive quantities of food before they self-induce vomiting. Besides being physically unhealthy, these two conditions create an intense psychological obsession with food and weight.

For many young women, eating disorders and obesity are not defined by what is medically healthy. In films, television and magazines, young women are bombarded with unrealistic ideals of feminine beauty. These ideals make young women feel inadequate and drive some to develop either bulimia and/or anorexia. Self-rationalization and further influence by the media will keep a young woman losing weight far past what is considered healthy. At this point, the eating disorder requires medical attention.

Treating eating disorders and obesity requires the support and assistance of many different people. A physician is always required to judge whether there has been any long-term damage due to either obesity or severe anorexia/bulimia. For a person to reach and maintain a healthy weight, family and friends need to give support and encouragement at every step. Finally, as eating disorders and obesity are in many cases caused by emotional issues, a therapist can provide support and help a person cope without resorting to either compulsive eating or denial of food.



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