Mum Takes on Disease; Anorexia Hits Home, Leading to Plan to Save More Young Lives

Article excerpt

Byline: VANI NAIDOO

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia is characterised by: extreme concerns about weight, intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, deliberate maintenance of a very low body weight, and often absent menstrual cycles.

Common signs of anorexia

Some of the common signs of anorexia may be:

being afraid of putting on weight;

calorie counting and/or obsessively avoiding high-fat food;

marked weight loss;

not wanting to eat;

being hungry but not wanting to admit it;

over-exercising;

obsessive weighing;

getting cold easily;

feeling like they are too fat even though they may be very thin;

nails and hair become brittle;

dry and yellow skin;

preference to eating alone or only eating around other people.

MUCH of Isabelle Caro's life has been documented for all to see. For years, the French supermodel flaunted the creations of top designers on catwalks around the world, her unforgettable face gazing intently from the cover of glossy magazines.

But it will probably be the images taken in the last few months of her career that will be the hardest to forget: the hollow eye sockets, sunken cheeks, protruding bones and a body so frail it is hard to believe she could stand at all.

That was the picture plastered across billboards in an effort to show the ugly face of anorexia, a disease the model succumbed to in November, aged just 28.

Disordered eating is emerging as a norm in our society, with 90% of 12 to 17-year-old girls admitting to having been on a diet of some kind and 17% of those resulting in an eating disorder. Sometimes stats can tell an alarming tale. Take these as a case in point:

Research done in Australia in 2007 showed that 18% of girls would starve themselves for more than two days, 11% of girls throw up to lose weight, and 8% of girls smoke cigarettes to reduce their appetite.

Anorexia nervosa is leading the charge. It is the third-most-common chronic illness (after obesity and asthma) for adolescent girls in Australia and has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illness.

For Silvia Uhrig, these stats are now a way of life. …