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  Early Adulthood:
Biosocial Development
- Destructive Dieting -

Ψ  Set point - particular body weight that an individual’s homeostatic processes strive to maintain. The set point is not rigidly fixed and is Influenced by the genes & environmental factors.
Ψ  Body Mass Index (BMI) - the ratio of a person’s weight in kilograms divided by his or her height in meters squared.

    BMI = w/h2 where:

    w = weight in kilograms (pounds divided by 2.2)
    h = height in meters (inches divided by 39.4)
    OR: BMI = Weight in pounds divided by ( height in inches times height in inches ) times  703. That is (in Imperial units): BMI = w/h2 x 703
New   For Adults;
   •   below 18 on the BMI scale is considered anorexic.
    •   between 19 & 25 is "good".
     •   26 to 30 is considered overweight.
      •   30 or above is considered obese.

Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa - eating disorder in which a person restricts eating to the point of emaciation, possible starvation, and sometimes death (20%). ~1% of young adult & adolescent females are anorexic. According to DSM-IV-R there are 4 symptoms:
      •   Refusal to maintain body weight at least 85% of normal
       •   Intense fear of gaining weight
        •   Disturbed body perception & denial of problem
         •   In adolescent & adult females, lack of menstruation
 Ψ  Anorexia is a disease of social context, in other words, the culture supports it. (Mitchell & McCarty, 2000)
•   Bulimia Nervosa - eating disorder in which the person, usually a female, engages repeatedly in episodes of binge eating followed by purging through induced vomiting or use of laxatives. 1% and 3% of women in the US are clinically bulimic during early adulthood. People with this condition are usually close to normal in weight, unlikely to starve, but experience serious health problems such as damage to gastrointestinal system & cardiac arrest.
•   Chronic dieting - pursuit of thinness that has led many people to feel dissatisfied with body shape, weights, preoccupied with food, fearful of fat, and to frequently be on a diet. (often have negative self thoughts, feel lapse of failure)
•   Binge eating disorder - consumption of large quantities of food in a very short period of time until the individual is uncomfortably full. Similar to bulimia but there is no form of purging (laxatives, vomiting, etc) following a binge
•   Compulsive overeating - uncontrollable eating and consequent weight gain. Use food to cope with stress, emotional conflicts, etc.
•   Statistics

    •   Development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are almost habitually preceded by dietary restriction.
    •   College women and athletes are particularly at risk
    •   44% adult women, 29% adult men, 44% adolescent girls, 15% adolescent boys in the U.S. describe themselves as losing weight.

Why Women?
  • Psychoanalytic hypothesis is that women develop eating disorders because of a conflict with their mothers, who provided their 1st nourishment and from whom the daughters can’t psychically separate.
  • Learning theory notes that for some people with low-esteem, fasting, bingeing, and purging “have powerful effects as immediate reinforces-relieving states of emotional distress and tension” (Gordon, 1990), thus setting up a destructive stimulus-response chain.
  • One cognitive explanation is that as women compete with men in business and industry, they want to project a strong, self-controlled, masculine image antithetical to the buxom, fleshy body of the ideal woman of the past.
  • Sociocultural explanations include the contemporary cultural pressure to be “slim and trim” and model-like - a pressure that seems to be felt particularly by unmarried young women seeking autonomy from their parents, especially when the parent espouse traditional values (Nasser, 1997).
  • Epigenetic Systems notes that girls who are overwhelmed with the stresses of puberty may discover that self-starvation makes their menstrual periods cease, their sexual hormones decrease, and their curves disappear - all of which relieve the pressures to marry and reproduce.

Human Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates