Bismillah Hir Rahman Ir Raheem
Peace and blessings be upon you all
I’ve sent an article to IFMSA SMC LC article writing competition. There were a couple of topics given for us to choose to write from so I chose the one above.
I’m not sure if I’ll win it or not but since there was no mention of sending unpublished work, and in case I don’t get selected, here’s my article for you all to read:
This is a story about two warriors, vulnerable yet persistent. They lead a troubled dysfunctional life, engulfed in low self-esteem, dissatisfaction with their body shape and figure, follow irregular and abnormal diet patterns and feel pressured by the expectations social media and society appears to place on them. They carry no swords and shields yet they wage a daily battle………….against themselves. They lead the same struggles yet they fight different enemies within themselves: anorexia and obesity.
Anorexia is an eating disorder where there is abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight and a dysfunctional perception of weight.
Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat.
Although these two disorders are very different in their overall outlook, BMI and the main cognitive perception, the psychological and behavioral experience patients both conditions go through are very similar.
- Both involve the feeling of loss of control over one’s life so control is ‘reacquired’ by using food, whether eating less or eating more, which is excessive hence abnormal.
- Both involve distorted cognitions that fuels their abnormal behavior, such as placing their life’s emphasis on their body figure, being over conscious about what others say about them, drawing over-exaggerated conclusions about what others say or how they feel, etc.
- A person can be predisposed to either one of these conditions. For example, an excess of the hormone leptin and deficiency of ghrelin induces satiety and vice versa induces hunger. The genes responsible for producing these hormones or involved in their metabolic pathway can lead to development of these conditions, although sometimes requiring environmental triggers to occur.
- Both of them can be aggravated by societal pressures. The emphasis on the ‘perfect figure’ can make a person experience guilt over appearing too fat or too skinny for people’s expectations. The narrow range of the norm makes them feel, although located on either extreme of both spectrums, as outsiders. Not belonging.
- Both have to suppress their feelings and behavior in front of others so as not to appear peculiar or bizarre.
- Both conditions lead to further complications; Obesity can lead to cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction and atherosclerosis. Anorexia Nervosa can lead to hormonal and electrolyte imbalance, immunodeficiency conditions as malnutrition can occur due to rejection of ingesting essential nutrients.
Anorexia and obesity are two sides of the same story of suffering; two sides of the same coin. This coin needs to be dealt with strictly and given high importance, not used for cheap profit. In Pakistan, a study proved that anorexia has a prevalence rate of 21.7% and another study using SCOFF questionnaire reported that 307 out of 446 (68.8%) female university students have a potential for developing eating disorders and need for clinical assessment. Furthermore, Pakistan is the 9th country in the world suffering from obesity and according to WHO, greater than 60% of the burden of global disease will be attributed to chronic disorders linked with obesity by 2020.
Continuing on, the solution for anorexia and obesity is also within that story or coin:
- A balanced schedule of eating and exercise is essential. Anorexics may exercise more and obese people may exercise less so it’s important to know there is a middle ground that proves beneficial without having to sacrifice.
- Diet needs to be managed to ensure it is healthy and nutritious and the quantity is enough to reach optimum BMI range. The patient can consult their doctor to make a daily diet plan to help keep themselves in check of what they’ve eaten.
- Patients can consult a counselor to guide them in shifting their cognitions from irrational to rational and to provide alternative positive practices that help dull down their abnormal dietary cravings, such as writing, art, sports, video games, etc.
Anorexia and obesity must be dealt with gradually but consistently so that the patient’s body and mind can adjust to new changes in his or her lifestyle. Medicines and surgeries can do wonders, but true treatment takes place when the patient understands his or her disease and voluntary takes measures to improve his or her health, and therefore, life.
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