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Extreme dieting is killing 1% of Mumbaikars, say doctors

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Mumbai : Eating disorders might sometimes be taken casually but take care as there could be a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed food habits. These disorders have seen a rise at an alarming rate in recent times. According to doctors, approximately one per cent of the population in Mumbai are suffering from “Anorexia nervosa”.

Anorexia nervosa is a psychological and possibly a life-threatening eating disorder defined by an extremely low body weight relative to stature, (called BMI ‘Body Mass Index’ and is a function of an individual’s height and weight), extreme and needless weight loss, illogical fear of weight gain, and distorted perception of self-image and body.

It is the most life-endangering of psychiatric disorders apart from suicide as well as the physical complications. “The physical treatment of starvation is infinitely less demanding than the psychological interventions. There are undoubted challenges with re-feeding since heart muscle’s bulk and strength are reduced with weight loss. When re-feeding is resumed, it can put a strain on heart muscle and potentially cause cardiac failure,” a senior doctor said.


Stating that most young girls and boys are suffering from eating disorders, Dr. Sagar Mundada, a psychiatrist, said “It is a serious illness wherein an integrated approach by psychiatrists and physicians is necessary to ensure change in cognition and thought patterns and adequate nutritional supplementation. Families should treat such individuals with empathy rather than criticising.”

Dr. Mundada further said, “Additionally, women and men who suffer from Anorexia nervosa exemplify a fixation with a thin figure and abnormal eating patterns. Anorexia nervosa is interchangeable with the term anorexia, which refers to self-starvation and lack of appetite.”

Another doctor said, “While on one hand there is increasing recognition of eating disorders in the country, there is also a persisting belief that this illness is alien to India. This prevents many sufferers from seeking professional help,” said a doctor. Besides, most people are only aware of anorexia and bulimia, though there are numerous eating disorders.

A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders also revealed that females with eating disorders — abnormal or disturbed eating habits — are more likely to be charged with theft and other crimes warn a study. In an analysis of nearly 960,000 females, individuals with eating disorders were more likely to be convicted of theft and other crimes.

The results suggested that incidences of theft and other convictions were 12 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively, in those with anorexia nervosa — lack or loss of appetite for food; 18 per cent and 13 per cent in those with bulimia nervosa — an emotional disorder characterised by a distorted body image and 5 per cent and 6 per cent in those without eating disorders.

The associations with theft conviction remained in both anorexia and bulimia nervosa even when adjusting for psychiatric co-morbidities and for familial factors, the study said

Eating disorder

People with anorexia nervosa continue with chronic dieting despite being hazardously underweight anorexia nervosa is a psychological disorder and possibly life-threatening eating disorder defined by an extremely low body weight relative to stature, (called BMI ‘Body Mass Index’ and is a function of an individual’s height and weight), extreme and needless weight loss, illogical fear of weight gain, and distorted perception of self-image and body

Bulimia nervosa also known as simply bulimia, is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by purging

Most young girls and boys are suffering from eating disorders which need psychiatrists as well as physicians

Increasing trend of eating disorders is recorded in the country but there is also a persisting belief that this illness is alien to India. This prevents many sufferers from seeking professional help, says a doctor