Although few forms are known and there is little research, there are several ways to prevent anorexia and bulimia before they appear.
In addition, other fundamental measures are to know the early signs of these disorders and seek a treatment that avoids their complications.
How to prevent anorexia and bulimia
In any case, remember that although several of these actions may work, there are no guaranteed ways to prevent these eating disorders.
It is important to try new forms of prevention and those described in this article when we look at these statistics:
- In Spain, the latest studies have indicated a prevalence rate of cases of eating disorders in adolescents of 4.1 – 4.5%
- Specifically, anorexia is around 0.3%, bulimia in 0.8% and eating disorder without specifying about 3.1% of the female population of 12-21 years
- According to the Red Cross, it is estimated that 1 in 100 adolescents have anorexia nervosa and 4 in 100 have bulimia nervosa
- Eating disorders increased by 300% in Mexico during the last 20 years.
- In the United States, anorexia nervosa is the third most frequent chronic disease among adolescent women, after obesity and asthma
- Mortality of eating disorders is the highest among those detected by psychiatric disorders
- The age of onset in anorexia nervosa is between 13 and 18 years, although more cases are being found in both girls and adults.
The 3 forms of prevention of anorexia and bulimia
To prevent anorexia and bulimia, you can act on:
- Primary prevention: avoiding the onset of the disorder
- Secondary prevention: detect quickly so that the disorder is not chronicled or settled
- Tertiary prevention: reducing the disorder once it has appeared and its relapses
In order for you to intervene so that the disorder does not appear, it will be necessary for you to know the factors that cause it to appear.
The main factors are:
- The current fashion of thinness in adolescents and young people transmitted by the mass media. In this case, you can only act to avoid that these means, dietary products, and fashion refuses to promote extreme thinness.
- Establish educational programs on anorexia in schools, institutes, universities and the media. In addition, it is advisable to encourage a critical attitude toward the messages sent by the media
- Give information about diets and nutrition: diets can be precursors to anorexia, so it is crucial that young people are informed about what is based on proper nutrition and change the unhealthy behaviors of intake
- Information to parents and relatives about anorexia and bulimia: it will be encouraged that the family establish a pleasant climate, avoid extreme demands and perfectionism
- Programs to avoid bullying in schools and institutes. In this article, you can read more about bullying
- Encourage self-esteem in children and see food and exercise with a positive attitude
- Avoid punishment or rewards related to food
- Be a role model regarding food and health
- Eliminate the idea that a particular diet, body or weight will lead to happiness
- Avoid, on the part of the parents, to judge the others by its physical.
On the other hand, it is good that you know the factors that predispose to a person having anorexia or bulimia:
- Body image: bullying, body changes, teasing of the body image of the affected
- Stressful events: divorce, change of school, breakups, rapid weight gain.
- Family members: psychopathologies in family members, family conflicts, parents worried excessively by the physicist, obese parents
- Social: the idealization of thinness, social pressure towards thinness
- Personal: having or having been overweight, being adolescent, being a woman, low self-esteem, perfectionism, idealization of thinness
- Decreased basal metabolic rate: it facilitates the synchronicity of the picture and the weight gain
- The reaction of people: there may be people who reinforce the behavior
- Frustration and hunger: decreases self-esteem and increases the level of personal hyper responsiveness
- Restrictive diet: hunger generates anxiety that is reduced by restricting diet to show that it is able to control the intake
With secondary prevention is intended to quickly detect the disorder and prevent it progress.
It will be necessary for you to know what signs are those that indicate that anorexia or bulimia has already appeared to treat them as soon as possible and prevent their settlement.
To make a better assessment, it is best to look at the global signs, since not all are present, not all indicate in isolation the presence of anorexia or bulimia.
The most characteristic signs of anorexia are:
- Avoid social activities
- Not wanting to undress or wear a bathing suit
- Showing closed, frustrated or irritable
- Social isolation
- If you are very young, it does not grow at the same rate as the others
- Always wear warm clothes or warm clothing
- Extreme thinness
- Avoiding food intake
- Great self-determination and perfectionism
- Spending time with the doctor with complaints
- If some of these symptoms are detected, the parents or teachers will have to visit a professional – psychologist or psychiatrist – to evaluate the case and dictate the treatment to be followed.
The most characteristic signs of bulimia are:
- Provide vomiting, use laxatives, appetite-reducing drugs, or diuretics to counteract weight gain
- Restrictive diets, fasting for a long period of time
- Uncontrollable desires to eat foods with many calories; Binge eating in short periods of time
- Do intense exercise
- Constipation, loss of tooth enamel, electrolyte imbalance, abrasions on the hands, edema on extremities, bloating
- Irritability, sleep disorders, apathy
- Decrease in school performance and neglect in personal care
- Locking yourself in the bathroom after eating to cause vomiting, taking drugs or laxatives
- Endocrine disorders and amenorrhea
- It is often given in people who have previously suffered anorexia nervosa with interval between both disorders of several months or years
- Intense fear of gaining weight
A simple tool with which to identify early the signs of anorexia are and bulimia is the Eating Attitudes Test.
A specific tool for anorexia nervosa is the Setting Conditions for Anorexia Nervosa Scale.
Tertiary prevention of anorexia or bulimia is closely related to its effective treatments.
It is intended to reduce the relapses, morbidity, and mortality of chronic cases.