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Each year millions of people in the United States are affected by serious and sometimes life-threatening eating disorders The vast majorities are adolescents and young adult women Approximately one percent of adolescent girls develop anorexia nervosa a dangerous condition in which they can literally starve themselves to death Another two to three percent develop bulimia nervosa a destructive pattern of excessive overeating followed by vomiting or other purging behaviors to control their weight These eating disorders also occur in men and older women but much less frequently The consequences of eating disorders can be severe For example one in ten anorexia nervosa leads to death from starvation cardiac arrest or suicide Fortunately increasing awareness of the dangers of eating disorders sparked by medical studies and extensive media coverage has led many people to seek help Nevertheless some people with eating disorders refuse to admit that they have a problem and do not get treatment Family and friends can help recognize the problem and encourage the person to seek treatment Anorexia nervosa is a disorder where people intentionally starve themselves It usually starts around the time of puberty and involves extreme weight loss Sometimes they must be hospitalized to prevent starvation because food and weight become obsessions For some the compulsives shows up in strange eating rituals some even collect recipes and prepare gourmet feasts for family and friends Loss of monthly menstrual periods is typical in women with this disorder and men with this disorder usually become impotentPeople with bulimia nervosa consume large amounts of food and then rid their bodies of the excess calories by vomiting abusing laxatives or exercising obsessively Some use a combination of all these forms of purging Many individuals with bulimia binge and purge in secret and maintain normal or above normal body weight they can often successfully hide their problem from others for years As with anorexia bulimia typically begins during adolescence The condition occurs
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