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Crave for beauty leading Chinese girls to eating disorders

With media messages equating pencil-thin looks with beauty, eating disorders are are on the rise among teenage Chinese girls, says a study .

fashion and trends Updated: Nov 18, 2005 14:04 IST

Bombarded by media messages equating pencil-thin looks with beauty, eating disorders are increasing among teenage Chinese girls, a study says.

Dieticians at the National University Hospital (NUH) saw only three cases of anorexia nervosa, the extreme condition of aversion to food, in 1992. This figure rose to 15 last year.

Basically, an eating disorder affecting those with a distorted perception of their shape, the condition of anorexia nervosa is characterised by decreased appetite or aversion to food, followed by severe weight loss.

With the majority of those affected between 15 and 19 years old, early detection is imperative, said Lim Su Lin, the NUH's chief dietician.

"If we are able to identify and tackle the root cause, such as low self-esteem, mistaken perceptions about eating or poor family relationships, it will make recovery easier," she said.

Since sufferers do not usually seek treatment voluntarily, the suspicions of families, friends, counsellors and general practitioners are more likely to get them going for a diagnosis, said the study published in The Business Times.

Patients who showed signs of recovery generally sought treatment around a year after they started battling anorexia nervosa.

Waiting for three to five years to do something is questionable. Follow-up treatments appear to affect chances for weight recovery, which also depends on how much time passed before help was sought.

First Published: Nov 17, 2005 12:11 IST