A Nightmare Called Anorexia
How can a condition that the medical students read so commonly—in fact, as a symptom with almost half the diseases they read—be a nightmare? It is not the plain anorexia (lack of appetite), but the dangerously debilitating ‘anorexia nervosa’ that has caused very serious concerns with rising numbers of young kids being hospitalized complaining of an absolute loss of appetite and unimaginably thin ghostly figures. The root causes of the condition are under research as yet, but the condition has become a nightmare for people as well as the health professionals.
Natural and man-made disasters and starvation
You must have seen the striking images of kids that due to the chronic malnutrition are painful to even see. Those kids might belong to Sub Saharan Africa, where nature or wars have caused havoc on population leading to starving conditions. The natural and social disasters are understandable as the cause of debilitation in this case. These raise concerns, but the politicians can work out the ways to resolve it.
What if the same condition is achieved by a well off kid belonging to France, the UK or the US? No, it is not due to poverty, it is not due to a natural disaster either. The causes are interestingly but ironically cultural in majority of such cases. Health researchers doubt there can be some gene (located at 1P position of chromosomes), but the causes are socio-cultural in the main. The genetic reason is by and large exceptional and that could not have made it a massive phenomenon.
The main cause: the craze to look thin
The main cause of the overpowering phenomenon that shocked the doctors across continents lies in the craze of ‘zero figure’ among the youth. It came to them from the adults and they passed it even to the toddlers. The society in general and the youth in particular can now go to any extent to get a charming look. It includes the dress they would wear, the perfume that is in trend, the way they do their hair, the way they move, and the way they smile and look. The inner talents and virtues have been covered somewhere deep beneath these superficial parameters. This has been so widespread and thoroughly supported by the mainstream culture and its leaders that no matter what, everyone has to be influenced by it.
People hope they can feel like the billionaire celebrities by copying them, their styles, their habits, and their food regimen (to the extent they can afford that). A celebrity’s interview in a magazine is more crucial for them than a health expert’s advice. They prefer to learn everything from them—from health to nutrition tips, to exercise regimen, the weight loss tips, the books they read, the games they play, the movies they like to watch, the way they walk, talk, wear dresses and laugh—they are ready to copy everything, subject only to the availability of their financial resources on their way to do that.
That the craze of the ‘zero figure’ has passed even to the children is a proof of the widespread popularity of the above celebrity culture everywhere. People, including particularly the young ladies, pay heavily for their dangerous hobby to copy their beloved celebrities. They fail to understand that they are devoid of the expensive resources that are always at the disposal of the celebrities. They think they can go the celebrity way to lose the weight by strictly leaving the meals arbitrarily, but they forget to see—or even don’t deliberately want to see—that the celebrities have a number of doctors employed in their service who keep each and every of their health parameters under constant vigilance to suggest the steps to their desired weight and figure and appearance. And the petty commoners have not even a sufficient coverage to meet their hospital expenses in the eventuality they might need it.
Once the children are caught into the trap of anorexia, what they target to achieve at first i.e. the least intake of food in order to become thinner becomes eventually a curse. They lose their appetite permanently. Before the condition turns terrifying, they are happy to look slim to their friends, enjoy compliments; and in the excitement they fail to notice they are developing something alarming.
The first thing is the appetite itself. What they had to strive to attain is now a habit. Rather, their biology turns to new ways and they don’t find taste in anything edible due to loss of the inner urge to take their meals. They feel tiredness but ignore it. They go on losing weight and then they attain a state when there are no fats and even proteins that could be metabolized to fetch them energy to move. The result is unexpected unconsciousness that is transient initially,but later it can even be fatal. The stage when one starts falling unconscious calls for hospitalization. And if not addressed properly, it can even prove fatal. You, after all, don’t know at what point of time on road or anywhere, the kid will fall unconscious.
The body’s internal mechanism
It is all about the mechanism which is responsible to maintain a harmony within the body. This mechanism gets disturbed in the case of anorexia. Starting with the changes in the digestive system it spreads to other parts and ultimately starts changing the nervous response. The crucial organ which controls many of the sensations and secures a homeostasis in the body is the hypothalamus. It is responsible for the maintenance of a constant temperature and for the sense of thirst, hunger and so on.
This master center hypothalamus is affected in the case of anorexia nervosa. Once it has changed its perception about the fall of glucose levels in the blood, you cannot feel the hunger. There will be no secretion of acids in the stomach and the peristalsis will remain subsided. All this will lead to absence of a feeling of hunger.
The politicians, doctors, media, entertainment industry, teachers and parents have all to come forward to devise a solution to the nightmare called anorexia. This condition is a symbol of civil penury of values amidst abundance of material wealth. The craze for superficial beauty and figures needs to be balanced with the deeper and more significant civil values. Children need to be very delicately handled and their moral nourishing needs to be rich.