Eating Disorders in LA Teens Equally Common in Men and Women
Suprising new results are coming in from a study of Los Angeles area high school students and their relationship towards eating disorders. As it turns out, the stereotypical image of the anorexic 16-year-old cheerleader is no longer very accurate at all, especially in Los Angeles.
According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Los Angeles Unified School District, 5.2 percent of the males polled said that they had recently vomited or used laxatives to control their weight. That number is twice the national average for boys and comparable to the female population.
"Boys are growing up now with the billboard of the guy with perfect pecs and biceps," said Roberto Olivardia, a clinical instructor in the Harvard Medical School psychiatry department. "You just didn't see that years ago."
What's more, boys were every bit as likely to use diet pills, powders, or liquids as their female counterparts. 6.2 percent of males said that they had done so as compared to 6.1 percent of females. As one college student points out, one of the main reasons for that may be gender stereotypes placed upon males at a young age.
"Men are pressured to have as little fat as possible -- but you've got to pretend like you don't watch what you eat," said Andrew Shrout, a 19-year-old junior at UC Berkeley. "I can see why a lot of younger kids get sucked into a vortex and end up doing bad things."
Though women have long been regarded as the gender most likely to succumb to eating disorders, that view is no longer as substantiated as it used to be. Between 1999 and 2009, government estimates indicate that the number of males admitted to hospitals for complications from eating disorders rose by a whopping 53 percent.
Though eating disorders are often portrayed as a non-serious issue pertaining to vanity, that does not detract from the seriousness of the disorder in those afflicted. Once a person becomes severely underweight they risk having all sorts of medical problems, including abnormal hormone levels, organ failure, and in some cases, even death.
"Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa -- disorders characterized by extreme eating behavior and distorted body image -- are among the deadliest of psychiatric disorders, with few proven effective treatments," notes Medical News Today.
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