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Eating Disorder

Eating disorders can be defined as the presence of abnormalities in the eating habits of individuals that is broadly characterised by consumption of insufficient or excess food as required by the body. Research studies have identified this problem as harmful to the physical and mental health of patients. Initially, it was argued that it affected the female population only, but in the recent years, studies have proved that it affects males as well, though rarely. Researchers have found out that women are at the highest risk of developing disorders associated with eating. Some scholars and critics argue that westernisation has significantly contributed to the risk of contracting this disorder associated with consumption of food.

Medical researchers have identified various key components associated with this disorder as the general interactions that occur between the homeostatic, motivational, and self-regulatory control processes in human beings. The various causes of this disorder have not been entirely understood through the studies carried out. Though, it is evident that medical conditions appear to be its major causes. Other research findings have concluded that the idealisation of the cultural practices such as the desire to become slim and the general youthfulness of individuals have contributed to its development considerably. Girls who have developed ADHD and PTSD conditions are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders. Other studies have also found that foster girls develop conditions that are related to food disorders. The foster girls majorly develop bulimia nervosa disorder.


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The various types of disorders as identified are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorders, and non-specified eating disorders. Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are the most common types of eating disorders in the United Kingdom according to various findings of research studies carried out. Peer pressure has also been found to contribute to the development of eating disorders among some individuals. It is especially common among youth who have reached the adolescent stage of growth, as most of them are influenced by their peers in terms of adopting certain eating behaviour that might prove to be detrimental to their health. Research has also shown that the genetic composition of an individual can trigger the development of such conditions. Substance abuse has also been attributed to the development of eating disorders, especially the bulimia nervosa. There is effective treatment to the eating disorder, and its consequences might be severe and leading to death.

Problem Statement

The specific problem to this research is that a large number of children do develop eating disorders at their early stages of life. The research seeks to explore the various causes associated with it and enumerate various recommendations on how to mitigate this problem.

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Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this research study is to determine the various causes that results in the ever increasing eating disorders purposely in kids. The study also seeks to identify the various key elements that have led to the eating disorder prevalence in certain age groups and study the various effects that results from the development of these eating disorders.

Significance of the Study

The research study is significant in that it will endeavour to sensitise the larger population on the various elements associated with the eating disorders. It will also strive to make recommendations to various stakeholders charged with the responsibility of mitigating the eating disorder by outlining the steps or actions that they can take to eradicate this problem.

Study Methodology and Design

Since the research is qualitative, the design to be used will be simple random sampling that will be employed in determining the specific individuals to include in the study population. In the presentation of the study findings, the data from the population samples will be analysed majorly using the taxonomy method of data analysis. It will be in accordance with some predetermined system such as the age, social class, geographical area etc. In the case of this research study, the predetermined system of data classification will be age. The sampled population will be classified according to age and analysed. The usage of taxonomy to classify the sampled population was necessitated by its simplicity in nature, and its easy remembrance. It was also found to be much easier as compared to other methods of data analysis. The data collected is classified as primary data and secondary data. The primary data will be collected through the usage of research instruments such as structured interviews and observations made on the various patients affected by this condition. The secondary data will generally be collected through the reviews on the available data and their analysis.

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Theoretical Analysis

The research study is concentrated majorly on the kids within the age group between 8 and 14 years. The study also restricted itself to the population within London and does not extend to other outside regions.

Scope of the Study

The study scope confirms itself to the identification of the various causes to the eating disorders among the kids within the age group of 8 and 14 years. Then, it enumerates the effects and symptoms of the various eating disorders that affects the children within the said age group and comes up with a list of recommendations of the various steps to be taken in an attempt to control this menace. Then, it gives suggestions on the possible areas of further research.

Literature Review

Several research studies have been carried out in an attempt to investigate this condition of abnormality that of eating disorders. Though there has never been any concrete research study that has conclusively come up with findings that give an entire understanding of this condition, strides have been made towards its studying and understanding. In the UK, studies have estimated that close to 1.1 million people are experiencing symptoms associated with this condition. The findings reveal that people between the age of 14 and 25 years are affected the most. According to this figure of affected individuals, kids have been found to be a total of 2000 in estimation. The figure of the kids affected by this condition was mainly collected from the records of the NHS hospital, where most of them were treated for this condition. Further research revealed that a total of 1,500 kids were aged between 13 and 15 years with 3 out of every 100,000 kids below the age of 13 years being found to suffer from this condition of abnormality associated with eating disorders.

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A research study, carried out by a team of experts of the University College of London Institute of Child Health, concentrated on the kids between the age of 5 and 13 years within the UK and Ireland. It relied on well-established paediatric surveillance within the Royal College. The study was carried for a period of 14 months that reported 208 disorder cases that were confirmed. The research findings showed that out of the 208 reported cases, 82% were found to be of the female gender and the 18% remaining was male. 37% of the sampled population had Anorexia nervosa, another 43% were found to have developed conditions associated with non-specified eating disorders, another 1% had Bulimia nervosa and the remaining had conditions associated with food avoidance and underweight. The research further found out that close to half of 208 cases registered had a close relationship with someone who had a mental problem history. Most of the disorder services were found to be aimed at adolescent youth with disorders among children being difficult to treat. The disorders among children were found to lead to severe illnesses such as leukaemia. The recommendations of this study were that there was an urgent need for clinics and other institutions to give more attention to the eating disorders among children separately from that given to adolescent youth.

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Another research carried out by the University of Liverpool, University of Southampton and the Great Ormond Street Hospital of the UK covered mainly three major areas on management such as physical management, psychological therapies and service issues. The study found out that the treatment administered to adolescent youths significantly differed with that administered on kids due to the physical issues that were involved in both the groups. It found out that there were few treatment trials and that the amount of attention that was given to physical management had reduced the amount of attention given to the various psychological management aspects of the disorder. It recommended that the clinics should increase the number of services that offered to outpatients. Also, further research has to be done in order to determine the advantages and disadvantages of various treatment methods of this disorder.

The anorexia nervosa has been associated with the loss of bones, increased risk of heart attack and caused by peer pressure but to greater extent biological factors. Bulimia nervosa is associated with behaviours such as self-induced vomiting and the general usage of laxatives. Binge eating disorder is the most common and is associated with compulsive eating. This research is expected to give its findings on the causes of eating disorders which are found to be a combination of abnormalities of the biological, psychological, and environmental factors. It is found to be caused by the various social, interpersonal, and the media that influences a majority in terms of being slim. The research sampled a total of 300 persons.

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Limitations of the Study

The various challenges encountered during the study range from lack of cooperation on the side of the affected individuals and their families as they considered the study to be too concentrated on personal information. Therefore, they concealed some information about the challenges associated with finances. Time was also a factor, as the researcher worked within a limited time period, thus, he could not reach as many people as possible.

Findings and Analysis


The study findings and analysis section contains the findings that came out of this research and its analysis. A total of 300 individuals were sampled that were interviewed and observed. Then, it enumerates the various causes and effects and gives recommendations to this problem of eating disorder. The findings can be represented in a tabular form according to the age taxonomy criteria.


Type of Disorder


8-10 years old


11-14 years old


Anorexia nervosa


7 children


13 children


Bulimia nervosa


25 children


45 children


Binge eating disorder


85 children


125 children


Total = 300 Children


117 Children


183 Children

Table 1. Types of Disorders and Age Groups

Further findings showed that the various services on disorder were majorly aimed at the adolescent youth and that the disorder in children was not an easy thing to treat.


From the taxonomic table above, it can be concluded that children between the age group of 11 and 14 years are relatively at a higher risk of developing eating disorders. Binge eating disorder is found to be the most common. Further review and analysis of the secondary data revealed that there are a few clinics which help the patients with eating disorders. The symptoms associated with eating disorders are avoidance of meals, loss of weight, and changes in digestive system. The effects included the increase in hair growth and exhaustion.

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The study recommends the building of more clinics specialising in treatment of eating disorders. Seminars and workshops should also be frequently organised, so that individuals would share vital information on how to help patients with eating disorders


The study suggests that more research should be carried out on various elements of eating disorders as their causes vary with time.



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