Eating Disorders in Rural Areas

Eating Disorders in Rural AreasA great deal of research has been conducted over the past several years in all parts of the world that evaluate the contributors to the development of eating disorders.

Primary Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by unrealistic fear of weight gain, self-starvation, and an extreme distortion of body image. Sometimes people with anorexia exercise excessively or purge through the use of laxatives, diuretics, or vomiting to avoid gaining weight.

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which individuals of normal or near-normal weight engage in episodic binge-eating, which is immediately followed by feelings of guilt and depression. Measures are then taken to purge the calories, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative use, fasting, or excessive dieting.

Eating Disorder Risks

Anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are serious health concerns; some of the medical consequences of eating disorders include the following:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Infertility
  • Renal failure
  • Hypokalemia
  • Acute electrolyte disturbances
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Repeated self harm
  • Impaired relationships
  • Limitations on social functioning

One of the most distressing facts about eating disorders is that they are the most deadly of all psychopathologies, with 20% of cases ending in death.

Eating Disorders in Rural Areas

A study conducted at BaylorUniversity explored adolescents and teachers in rural high schools concerning the prevalence and knowledge of eating disordered behavior. Three hundred and forty five students and 112 teachers were surveyed. The results of this study suggest that eating disordered behavior may be a prevalent problem affecting today’s rural youth. It was also found that teachers are more knowledgeable of eating disorders but feel unprepared to identify and properly assist a student with an eating disorder.

Another study conducted at Middlebury College tested the idea that public self-consciousness, the concern with self-presentation, and others’ view of oneself are often correlated with the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. The hypothesis is that rural women are non-anonymous and criticized more often than urban women, which may place them at higher risk for eating disorders. Rural communities are so small that it is common to be recognized by others, making it nearly impossible to remain anonymous.  It is also supposed that those in rural areas are more likely to feel scrutinized and are subjected to harsher criticism by others than those in more anonymous, urban settings.

Sixty female undergraduate participants completed a self-consciousness questionnaire. These results support the idea that people from rural areas are more publicly self-conscious, and it can be concluded that this increased self-consciousness can explain the increased risk of eating disorders in rural environments.

Treatment for Eating Disorders

The treatment of eating disorders focuses on many goals including the following:

  • Restore normal weight
  • Treat physical complications
  • Assist in understanding and resolving underlying psychiatric disorders
  • Teach proper nutritional habits
  • Encourage and practice healthy eating patterns and meal plans
  • Alter dysfunctional thoughts about eating
  • Improve self-control, self-esteem, and behavior
  • Provide family counseling
  • Prevent relapse

The sooner a person can get help for their eating disorder, the greater the likelihood for success.

Get Help for Eating Disorders

Get help to learn about the most appropriate eating disorder treatment for you. While recovery is difficult, it is possible and we can help, so please call our toll free number today.  We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about eating disorder treatment programs.  We are here to help.