The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Americans need to be more aware of eating disorders

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Everyone talks about the starving citizens in third-world countries like Africa, but it’s not so common to hear about the hungry people in the United States.

Americans of all genders and ages—who don’t struggle with poverty—go to bed hungry every night.

Eating disorders are an overlooked mental illness. They have affected many people; everyone probably knows someone with an eating disorder who hasn’t come out about their struggle yet.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders recognizes that at least 30 million people in the U.S. struggle with an eating disorder. That’s just our country alone. There are around 70 million people in the world who are affected by anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder.

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Without enough food in someone’s stomach, it’s likely that they’ll start having daily problems like feeling weak, dizzy and lethargic. Eating disorders also cause people to withdraw from social situations and become so preoccupied with their weight that they develop anxiety.

These effects of the disorder often put the person on setbacks within school, the workplace and family life.

These disorders can take a worse toll than just day-to-day issues though. Every 62 minutes, someone with an eating disorder loses their battle with themselves and ends up losing their life. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses.

As technology and social media advance, people have noticed that younger people are exposed to more triggers of eating disorders.

The sense of portraying oneself to look better than the rest of their friends and followers can really screw with people’s minds and can bring serious body image issues into their lives.

The Eating Disorder Organization of the UK thinks that the media influences young girls in a negative way. The organization says that an exposure to images goes hand in hand with self-regard and self-efficiency because young girls compare themselves to others the most when they start going through puberty. During this young period of a girl’s life, tendency for social comparison is at its peak.

However, the media’s influence on people can be more direct than just comparison to others.

The internet has developed forums where other girls are openly encouraging others to be anorexic. These active online groups call themselves “pro-ana.” Some people who self-proclaim as this have blogs where they give “anorexia tips” and post “thinspiration photos” of slim girls to inspire others not to eat. It sounds crazy, but these blogs exist.

People associated and involved with pro-ana may be using the internet to try and justify themselves or find other people going through similar mental setbacks because they feel alone. They don’t want to admit that the things they are feeling is wrong. The internet is dangerous in the sense that it opens up opportunities like this to people who are looking for personal justification.

This is very real, and very serious.

Something needs to be done about this mental illness. While it may be a chemical balance in the brain and out of one’s control, outsiders who recognize the severity of this can do their part spreading awareness.

Know that if someone cuts back a lot on eating or loses a significant amount of weight fast, it could be a bigger problem than it appears.

Even though media like Instagram can feel like an amateur-modeling contest at times, all body images are beautiful. Negative body images are very damaging, and nobody should ever go through that potential damage that can be done.

More people need to recognize, respect, and pave the road to recovery for people who struggle with eating disorders.

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