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Disordered Eating - Vegetarians
Self-Image and Eating Disorders Among Teenage Vegetarians
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Disordered Eating in Vegetarians

For many years, eating disorder specialists have been seeing so many young women who've become vegetarians, they consider it a marker for an eating disorder, according to Frances Berg in her book, Women Afraid to Eat -- Breaking Free in Today's Weight-Obsessed World (Healthy Weight Network, 2000). Many, such as Monika Woolsey, M.S., R.D., CEO of A Better Way Health Consulting, Inc., and associate editor of Healthy Weight Journal, have cautioned that it has become a politically correct way to have an eating disorder, enabling them to mask their dieting and eliminate entire food groups from their diet. Indeed, Sheree A. Klopp, M.S., and colleagues reported in last month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association that over one-third of vegetarians appear to be at risk for an eating disorder.

Researchers studying teen vegetarians in Minnesota found over 80 percent were women. In their study, published in the December 2001 Journal of Adolescent Health, the researchers reported that compared with non-vegetarians these vegetarians were more likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies and exhibit signs of depression, as well as almost twice as likely to diet frequently, four times more likely to intentionally vomit and eight times more likely to use laxatives for weight control.

A female who is both vegetarian and eating disordered is also much more likely to be malnourished, leading to an increased severity in their illness, Berg said.

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