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Eating Disorders Specialist: 20% of People With Anorexia Die, That’s Staggering

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Doctor's office - Sputnik International
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According to the latest data anorexia together with bulimia and binge eating have affected some 30 million people in America alone in 2016. In the wake of November 16, International Anorexia Awareness Day, Sputnik spoke with Marg Oaten, the secretary and co-founder of SEED Eating Disorder Support Services.

The statistics are truly scary and depressing, said Oaten, an eating disorders expert. "Twenty percent of people actually die from this illness, many – directly through suicide. And that’s staggering." She went on to say that this is the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Adducing an example of her own daughter who suffered from anorexia from the age of 10 onward, the expert shared grave data: one to four people in Britain sustain health problems immediately connected to eating disorders. Everybody with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 16 can be considered anorexic to some extent. 

Although genetic and physiological factors are the most important players here, Marg Oaten is sure it is all about feelings, not food. She brings to the fore the idea that the medical factors to the problem should by no means be disregarded, as feelings should also be treated like a medical condition and addressed by professionals.

"It’s all about a vicious circle embroiling medical state, physical state … as well as emotional and therapeutical intervention."

The problem wouldn’t get that far if GPs considered the medical state seriously and didn’t let their clients underestimate the risks.

"Health services are basically addressing the emotional needs. But they don’t oversee medical needs."

What we are, sadly, facing right now is that those in need of professional medical help take responsibility for their own well-being, Ms Oaten stressed, noting the highest risk groups are those aged 10-16 and 19 — 29.

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Whatever the case, one cannot cope alone, the expert says, sharing her golden tip: "You need a whole network of specialists around an individual to move forward. You shouldn’t be thinking out of the box."

Anorexia nervosa, including bulimia, is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss or lack of normal weight gain in growing children, difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for a certain height and age, as well as a distorted body image. The condition, which is challenging to diagnose, is typically caused by the wrong use of weight control means, such as inappropriate dieting, skipping meals, etc.

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