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What is the Connection Between Obesity and Anorexia?

By Kelly Ferguson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Obesity and anorexia are two illnesses that are seemingly at opposite ends of the spectrum. In actuality, these diseases are more similar than they are different, each with its own weight and nutrition health risks, physical and mental taxation, and social stigmas. With growing societal importance placed upon appearance and weight, much more of the population seems to be falling less in the healthy, middle range and more at one of these two ends of the weight spectrum.

With the exception of very few individuals who have developed obesity as a result of a separate, underlying health condition, obesity is usually the product of an eating disorder that causes a person to take in far more food on a consistent basis than the body needs to function. Contrastingly, anorexia causes the sufferer to eat much less than is needed for survival, at which point the body starves. Additionally, obese individuals are less likely to expend extra energy through exercise, while anorexics usually try to exercise and spend as much energy as possible.

Both obesity and anorexia are very harmful to the body. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a number of other illnesses. While the risks of obesity are more well-known, the health implications of anorexia should not be underestimated. Anorexia may lead to malnutrition and too little fat in the body to maintain bodily processes. These can cause numerous health problems, including extreme fatigue, decreased mental and physical functioning, and possible death.

The constant struggle toward recovery for those suffering from obesity and anorexia is made even more difficult by the negative attitudes common toward these illnesses. Obesity and malnutrition can cause hormonal disorders in the body, leading to emotional instability, depression, and irritability. The fact that these groups can face ridicule on an almost daily basis is made even more difficult to cope with by these emotional imbalances.

The difficulties coping with obesity and anorexia and the lack of acceptance from others tends to lead to suffering personal relationships and deceptive behavior. One characteristic of the eating disorder that leads to obesity is binging, which often accompanies food hoarding. Many obese people buy and eat food secretly, and lie or become angry if confronted about this behavior. Anorexics, on the other hand, lie to cover up an avoidance of food, sometimes by pretending to eat or claiming to feel ill or otherwise not hungry.

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