Eating Disorders

Is societal pressure to be thin to blame?


Tabloids and TV entertainment shows are full of gossipy reports about young, pencil-thin Hollywood actresses who might be anorexic or bulimic. Eating disorders, however, are far from glamorous. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Up to 35 million Americans have an eating disorder. Moreover, contrary to the old stereotype, overachieving white girls from affluent families are not the only victims. Also afflicted are men, middle-aged women, African-Americans and children as young as 8. Many Americans blame the nation's obsession with appearances for causing eating disorders, but genetics and brain chemistry also play roles. Public-health experts say Web sites that give tips on hiding eating disorders should be closed down, while patients' advocates are pushing Congress to require insurers to cover more ...

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