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The Observer

Untreated Habits lead to Unexpected Reprecussions


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What is disordered eating, and how common is it at CHS?

Prom is soon, and talk of diets and a desperate need for weight-loss to be able to squeeze into a prom dress is already filling the hallways. While there are healthy methods for weight loss, many often turn to dangerous exercise and eating habits to drop the extra pounds.

Across the nation and at CHS, high school students face enormous pressure; whether it be from peers, sports expectations or other emotional stressors, and they can all lead to unhealthy eating habits.

Unhealthy eating habits can have more serious consequences, as they can lead to prolonged eating disorders.

According to an Observer survey of 43 students, 58 percent of students know at least one person who has had or currently has an eating disorder.

“I had been made fun of for my weight, which fluctuated as a result of medications,” said junior Abby Smith*. “I started eating less and less, soon eating nothing at all. My parents noticed and took me to a doctor who diagnosed me with anorexia nervosa.”

According to the National Association for Eating Disorders (NEDA), the most common types of eating disorders include bulimia, binge-eating and anorexia. They are classified as mental illnesses that involve extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors, surrounding food, exercise and body image. Contrary to common thought, these disorders can affect people of all different backgrounds, regardless of race, class, gender or sexual orientation.

“I was depressed after the loss of a close family member,” Wheaton High School junior Joshua Sorto said. “I didn’t want to make friends or even eat. I began to realize that my image, because I was overweight at the time, was abhorrent. I tried not to eat.”

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website, thirty million Americans struggle with an eating disorder each year. They have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. However, many affected people don’t get the help they need because of their ability to hide it, or the inability of others to recognize dangerous behaviours. Even when a person is not officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, they may exhibit disordered eating behaviors.

According to a Buzzfeed article, a website on which many popular trends are publicized, a trend today is for people to undergo “crash” diets in which they only consume a small amount of calories per day for a short period of time in order to lose weight quickly for a special event, like prom or homecoming. Sometimes calorie counts for crash diets are as low as 700 calories per day.

Common crash diets include juice cleanses—where participants only ingest and receive all their necessary nutrients from juice over a period of time—and the “military diet”—where participants strictly limit their calorie intake for three to seven days (although there are different versions of every diet). However, they can have drastic affects on your body.

According to a 2010 CNN article, research shows that crash diets can increase chances of dehydration, heart palpitations and cardiac stress as well as diminish one’s immune system. The rapid weight loss deprives the body of crucial nutrients and can slow down one’s metabolism which leads to future weight gain.

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