Losing weight too fast can lead to anorexia is teens according to experts

People who are obese, a category that includes approximately 23% of the UK’s population, are subject to a number of problems both physical and psychological, but when they lose a lot weight over a short period of time, they may have even more problems. The results of a study conducted by researchers at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic were published this month in the journal Paediatrics, and they warn that teenagers especially are at risk of anorexia.

The medical term anorexia nervosa is loosely defined as an eating disorder that affects physical and mental health; anorexics are obsessed about body weight and resort to all sorts of drastic diets and fasting, more often than not to the serious detriment of their health. The study, led by Dr. Leslie Sims, found that diseases like anorexia and bulimia (which involves extreme overeating and self-induced vomiting) often go undiagnosed until irreparable damage has been done.

One of the main reasons, says Dr. Sims, is that parents, peers and teachers encourage weight loss and see it as a good thing regardless of how it’s being accomplished. What they don’t realize is that both anorexia and bulimia lead to malnutrition, due to a lack of essential nutrients that are either not ingested or promptly vomited up after an eating binge.

Dr. Sims said it is crucial to identify these disorders in teens and adolescents before they progress any further, and that is not happening in too many cases. One example was a 22-year-old woman who had been ‘classified’ as obese when she was 15. She went on a 240-calorie per day yoghurt diet supplemented with diet pills, applauded by her high-school peers for her slimmer figure even as she felt weak and light-headed all day.

Nobody realized anything was wrong until her therapist took note of her eating (or non-eating) habits and was able to get her back on a proper diet, but it took nine months before that happened. Her story has a good ending, since she’s now healthy and at a healthy weight, working to help other people who have eating disorders. Unfortunately the story does not end well for a large percentage of people who mistakenly believe they can never be too thin.

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