Body weight, fat and dieting have captured the minds and imaginations of teenagers and adults alike. "Thin is in" and has stayed "in" for a long time now.
To give you an idea of how much of a hold weight loss has on us, consider this: an estimated $33 billion is spent in the U.S. each year on diet books, over-the-counter medications, health club memberships and low calorie foods!
Melanie is no different than millions of other teenagers and adults around the world. And so the real question here, as mentioned by Melanie, is whether or not she is able to differentiate between normal dieting and anorexia.
Anorexia (the medical term is Anorexia Nervosa), is an eating disorder in which individuals refuse to maintain a minimally normal body weight. Such individuals are intensely afraid of gaining weight and they exhibit a significant disturbance in the perception of the shape or size of their body.
The intense fear of becoming fat is usually not alleviated by any weight loss that the person achieves. In fact, concern about weight gain often increases even as actual weight decrease. In addition, individuals with anorexia lack insight into, or deny the problem.
More than 90% of cases of anorexia occur in females. Often, but not always, the onset of the problem is associated with a stressful life event.
The course of anorexia is highly variable. Some individuals recover quickly, some fluctuate between weight gain and weight loss, while others suffer and deteriorate over the course of many years. Hospitalization sometimes is required to restore weight and in some cases, death results from starvation or suicide.
With Melanie, monitoring is the key word. Melanie herself says she just wants to lose a "few more pounds."That might be fine, but the question is, what happens after the few pounds? If Melanie becomes less obsessed with her weight then everyone can breathe easier.
But if the trend continues and Melanie remains obsessed and panicked about her weight and appearance, then the family's doctor should be consulted. In addition, therapy with a mental health professional might be necessary. There is a very good chance that Melanie will not cooperate, believing that there is no problem other than her weight, but these measures must be taken if the need arises.
You need to monitor. Meanwhile, Let's Talk.