In recent decades, the issue of eating disorders has attracted much attention from the scientific community, thus bringing to the investigation of the pathogenetic and symptomatic aspects of this condition.
Eating disorders, in their various manifestations, constitute a significant health problem, greatly intertwined with the culture of our time. There are many factors that have contributed to the spread of the phenomenon, such as socio-cultural influences, dominant in the Western world, offering models of stereotypical feminine identity linked to the image of extreme thinness, often misunderstood, especially through the media, as a guarantee of health and
success. The epidemic in childhood and in adulthood has become a social problem in the West. In Italy, about 3 million people, accounting for 5% of the population, suffer from eating disorders.
Eating disorders can be thought about using the body-food-weight trinomial: the body acts as the scene for an otherwise inexpressible and umberable pain, becoming in this way the instrument to reveal deep suffering; the food becomes the object you depend on, either by denying it to yourself, like in the case of anorexia, or by abusing it, in the case bulimia and binge eating disorder (BED); the weight becomes the obsession in which to invest all energies.
This is not simply due to a loss of appetite nor to the imitation of inadequate role models, these are symptoms of complex mental illness.
The DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association) distinguishes eating disorders in three categories: anorexia, bulimia and eating disorders not otherwise specified.
Anorexia is defined as the refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height; from a diagnostic point of view anorexia is characterized by a fanatical pursuit of thinness, related to an intolerable fear of gaining weight. Anorexia involves a drastic reduction of food intake and body weight: hunger is disacknowledged and ingested calories and grams are obsessively checked. Aronexia often follows a weight loss diet but soon the inner imperative leads the person to feed more and more miserable food, chasing an unattainable ideal of thinness.
Unlike anorexia, where the body shows the obvious signs of physical deterioration, bulimia is not as visible. In fact, the person suffering from this disorder is often average weight. Bulimia has the features of the pathology of addiction: the object on which you are dependent on is food. Individuals with bulimia nervosa are often ashamed of their eating habits and pathological attempts to hide these, and often resort to compensatory behaviors such as selfinduced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives.
The category “eating disorders not otherwise specified“ (NOS) in the DSM-IV-TR includes those conditions that do not meet the criteria for a specific eating disorder. It also includes all partial forms of anorexia and bulimia.
Binge eating disorder (BED) affects obese subjects who suffer from an eating disorder with psychological implications. It is important to make a distinction between BED and so-called.